Living in Germany

Coronavirus Chronicles: Week 1

Coronavirus Chronicles from Hamburg | Let the Journey Begin

We’re wrapping up the first week of Hamburg’s five-week plan of increasingly stricter social distancing measures for fighting the spread of Coronavirus.

As part of my own measures of staying sane with the whole family at home 24/7, here’s an update (or should I call it a vent?) about life right now. Plus check the end of the post for some of my favorite things in these crazy times!

What’s been happening in Germany

Just a few weeks ago, most Germans weren’t taking the whole “Coronavirus stuff” too seriously. Now it has arrived in full force, bringing the social life across the country close to a standstill. Last Friday, when the decision was made to close schools and daycares across the country, Germany had 3,675 confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Today, on the evening of the 20th March, the number has reached almost 20,000 (data source).

And here in Hamburg we apparently live in the epicenter of the epidemic. Well, at least if you look at confirmed Coronavirus infections per capita: currently 31,8 per 100,000 people.

The vast majority of cases in the city have been “imported” during the school holiday at the beginning of the month. While other German states have school holidays around Easter, Hamburg usually has an earlier 2-week “ski holiday”. Lots of people flocked to the ski slopes in Italy, Austria, and Switzerland and, upon return home, tested positive for the virus.

At the same time, there is hope that Germany is doing well with regard to testing. Even though testing is not available for everyone (one needs to meet certain criteria), the low number of confirmed infections vs. deaths (currently around 0.3%) gives hope that there aren’t many undetected carriers spreading the virus. More on that here.

Currently, the hottest debate is whether Germany needs to implement a curfew, as Italy, France, and Spain have done. From what I’m reading, this will be decided on Sunday evening based on how good people are at social distancing this weekend.

So behave and #StayTheFuckHome!

The main view for the next month

Life at home

Speaking of staying at home, we have survived the first week of family time 24/7. Hurrah to us!

In some ways, this feels like the Christmas holidays. Well, minus the decorations and the gifts, and not having to work. So no, not really like the Christmas break. All potential presents (also known as the gift stash) are still under our bed, waiting for more dire circumstances.

My husband and I are fortunate to have employers for whom working from home is business as usual. Both of our companies, as well as our daycare, have been great at providing a timely, informed, and organized response to the changes caused by the Coronavirus.

This week we have been trying to find a new normal with all of us at home. Finding a balance between spending time with the kids and getting work done at the same time is not an easy task. Some days I have had the feeling that I’m not entirely successful at either of those things.

Yet, at the end of the week, I have met all my deadlines even if the kids have had too much screen time. In fact, I had to grab their scooters and take them around the block this afternoon because they were getting too cranky after spending the whole day indoors, again.

On top of all that, there are also more messes to clean and more meals to cook. I briefly saw the bottom of the laundry basket this week, so I suppose that’s something.

Another big adjustment for us, typical European city-dwellers, is not going grocery shopping every day. In all seriousness, this is the first time in my life when I have had a filled pantry. And let me tell you, it’s weird to have more than 1-2 options of dinner dishes! We might need to add some shelves in the kitchen though, it’s definitely not big enough for a proper pantry.

I might need to start a social distancing artwork folder…

The bright side

Right now I’m feeling particularly lucky to have two kids (so they can play with each other), kids that are old enough (so they can keep themselves occupied), and yet young enough not to be in school (and thus not require homework help). And they can get their own snacks!

And, as it turns out, sometimes indecisiveness is a good thing. We couldn’t make up our minds about a destination for our post-Easter holiday so we hadn’t booked anything. Every single place we had been considering closed down this week.

Last but not least, social distancing seems to work so far, at least with regard to the usual seasonal colds. We’re finally getting rid of the running noses and coughs that felt impossible to shake the past few months.

3 things I’m loving right now

Trevor Noah’s The Daily Social Distancing Show on YouTube

#TogetherAtHome concerts on Instagram, organized by Global Citizen

And, if you’re outside the US, the heavily discounted New York Times digital subscription

How is everything where you are? How are you dealing with adjustments to daily life?

Cover photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

  1. Thank you for sharing! We’re in the same situation in Bremen. Gives our little boy more chance to catch up with his English and Latvian vocabularies. I hope we’re not banned from going outside as our daily walk to the park is giving us now a lot of joy.. even though the playground is closed.

    • I agree! And you’re right, it’s definitely a good thing for the minority languages – another bright side πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Ilzele. Your day sounds a lot like mine, here in NY. My boys are older (11 and 13) and have more time these days to focus on their Spanish and German as well as dedicating more time to playing their musical instruments. Thanks for your update and best wishes!

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