So, in the final month, of the first year of our Covid-19 experience, we have entered lockdown for the second time! This time in Barbados! I somehow think that this one will be a very different experience to the dark days of March and April in 2020.
Who would have thought that the past year would have been such a strange roller coaster of new and frightening experiences, scary and exhilarating choices and decisions, and the adventure of a lifetime!
Last year, on Monday the 3rd of February, we had just returned from a 3 week holiday in Barbados, and were looking forward to going to the pantomime in Birmingham with our grandson, the following afternoon. Little did we know that the next month the whole world would be in the grip of the pandemic, and that we were about to begin the strangest year of our lives. Nor had we any idea that we would be back in Barbados by the autumn, this time for an extended stay.
On the 12th of January I wrote about the second wave that Barbados had been experiencing since Christmas. In many ways they appear to have regained some control over the surge of infections, but the situation remains worse than it was back at the start of the pandemic for them. They have now had a total of 1585 cases and, sadly, 14 deaths. They have admitted that the virus is now spreading in the community and that some cases of the highly infectious UK variant have been detected.
For this reason, a week or so ago, the Prime Minister announced that there will be a “National Pause” (aka lockdown) from the 3rd to the 17th of February. The hope is that this will serve to eradicate the last traces of the virus on the island.
The basic message is “Stay at Home”, unless you have to go out for medical reasons, to buy food or to exercise between 6am and 9am.
The existing curfew has been extended to 7pm to 6am, during which time it is forbidden to leave your home for any reason except a medical emergency.
Masks are mandatory in all public places.
Parks and beaches are open between 6am and 9am only.
All shops, bars, restaurants and street vendors, except for a few large supermarkets and bakeries, are closed. Supermarkets are open for restricted hours only from Monday to Friday, and are closed at weekends.
It’s not going to be so bad though. It’s warm and we can sit outdoors. We have a pool. We can still do our exercise in the early mornings. The freezer is stocked up. Mia (the PM) has suggested we all use it as time to Rest, Reflect and Renew and that is exactly what we plan to do. I’ve been taking a break from writing since I published Wait for Me, so it seems like a good time to get going again!
Testing here remains an issue, particularly in relation to travel. Many countries, including the UK, Canada and the US, now require negative tests before people are allowed to enter the country. In addition, many people are rushing home before prolonged and costly “hotel quarantines” are introduced. This has placed an excessive demand on the testing services, and obtaining results before travel has become an unpredictable and stressful experience. There are many stories of people who have not received their results in time and have not been able to board their flights.
The big story that broke yesterday is that Captain Tom (now Sir Tom) the great British icon of positivity and stoicism in the face of the virus, has died from it! It is not just terribly ironic that the very thing that made him famous has killed him. It is also, for me, symbolic of how, at the moment, it very much appears that all around the world, the virus is winning the fight.
RIP Captain Tom.