Happy 1st of May!
Today is a public holiday here in Germany (and much of the rest of Europe). It’s definitely the quietest International Workers’ Day that I have experienced in my 10+ years in Germany. No mass parades, no raucous demonstrations, no water throwers parked in our street. With some luck, Hamburg may even forego the yearly 1st of May riots.
It’s days like this that make you realize how different life in the times of Corona really is.
What’s been hapenning in Germany
This Friday Germany has just over 160,000 COVID-19 cases and slightly over 6,500 deaths. Roughly 10,000 new cases in a week is a pretty good number for a country of 83 million inhabitants.
Since the case doubling rate has been under control for a while now, the number everyone obsesses about these days is the reproduction rate. Keeping it low is what any further loosening of the lockdown measures depends on. And this week there’s quite a few – playgrounds will open soon, as well as museums and zoos. Also, churches can open their doors again, albeit for a limited number of churchgoers.
Meanwhile, Germany has extended the social distancing restrictions until (at least) the 10th of May. And the international travel warning has been extended until the 14th of June. Any travel for the summer holidays will most likely be inland travel.
This was the first week of mandatory masks in shops and public transport, a pretty big adjustment for many. Surgical masks appear to be the most popular choice across age groups. But, masks aside, this week farmers’ markets and shopping streets in our corner of Hamburg looked almost like they did before Corona. Many shops are open and there are people everywhere.
Paradoxically (but sadly, not surprisingly), the successes up to now mean that the people who doubt the necessity of strict measures are getting ever louder. Like many other places in the world, also Germany has seen its share of protests, and the chief epidemiologist has even received death threats.
Our life at home
This week, for the first time since the lockdown started, I have left the house every single day. As the kids, particularly our youngest, have been moodier lately, we are trying to give them more physical activity. Add to that vital appointments like our 6-year-old’s booster vaccination and necessary evils like grocery shopping, and it’s been a busy week.
By now the kids have reached a point of being bored with all their toys and demand more and more attention from us. More reading, more playing together, more ideas for crafts. Very reasonable requests but difficult to achieve alongside working from home, ensuring three meals a day, and staying on top of laundry and other household chores.
And just like that I’ve circled back to the same feeling I had during the first weeks of the lockdown. Nothing is ever done for 100% and everyone is dissatisfied with something.
We are 7 weeks into lockdown and there is still no clear plan on when and how daycares will be opened again. This week a rough 4-phase process was proposed by the family ministers of the federal governments. Yet there is no timeframe for it, and likely every federal region will implement it individually.
I feel fortunate that our daycare has been amazing throughout this crazy time. Their information is always timely, clear, and encouraging. We have received video messages from our kids’ teachers and there’s also a log-in area on the homepage with fun activities, photos, and videos. They are making sure that families who need help get help, independent of whether the parents work in “system-relevant” jobs. And now, thanks to a Hamburg initiative, we can even pick up free lunches for the kids at the daycare!
The internet is a terrible place…
The longer this pandemic lasts, the more frustrated I become with people online.
While two months ago I was almost obsessively following the news, these days I have cut down both on news and social media. And I make sure to never ever open the comment sections. Reading those just gets me worked up.
However, despite my best efforts I still find stories that upset me or, worse, make me feel helpless. From wild conspiracy theories surrounding the Coronavirus to Elon Musk (once again) being a complete [insert curse word here]. From articles about nurses being stigmatized and harassed to heartbreaking tales of suffering because of lockdowns.
And yet the internet is a wonderful place…
Can you imagine being stuck at home without the internet? Yeah, me neither.
For me, the internet makes it possible to work from home, to connect with friends and family, and to be entertained and inspired. There are people all around the world doing amazing things right now.
Furthermore. in the past months, I’ve come to appreciate my global circle of contacts in a new way. Thanks to years spent in an international youth NGO, studies at an international university, involvement in a multicultural blogger group, as well as living abroad and networking with other expats, my social media friends are scattered all across the world.
Thanks to them, this pandemic has never been an abstract, distant threat that will not reach us personally.
Reading about the real-life experiences of people you know provides a perspective that abstract numbers in the news or articles on what country A or B is doing right (or wrong) cannot.
3 things I’m loving right now
I have always had a soft spot for the German kids’ show Sendung mit der Maus. And it’s especially awesome right now. Not only is it broadcasting every day, but it also provides Coronavirus information for kids in an accessible way. It gives ideas for handling difficult topics like missing out on birthday celebrations and delivers quarantine tips from an astronaut. My 6-year-old is super well informed!
I know I have mentioned it before, but The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah remains one of the best things on the internet right now. In fact, it’s so good that Comedy Central extended its broadcast time!
And, last but not least, this song: