The lockdown, or “National Pause”, in Barbados has been extended until midnight on the 28th of February. In addition, the curfew has been extended from the hours of darkness (7pm until 6am), to include weekends. This weekend, for the first time, we are not allowed to leave our homes, for any reason, from 7pm on Friday until 6am on Monday. They are also planning to tighten up their monitoring of compliance with the restrictions, and will be dishing out severe penalties including large fines and even prison sentences, to people who breach the conditions of the directive.
It is all because the numbers are not going down, and it seems that not everyone is adhering to the protocols. Several people have been arrested, and taken into custody, for running illegal parties (limes), or opening their business when they are not permitted to do so. To be honest, on the rare occasions when we have been out, on our way to and from the beach or supermarket, we have been surprised by the large number of cars on the road and people that are about. But, you could argue that we were contributing to these large volumes ourselves!
Sadly, deaths continue to rise. A couple of days ago the country lost their first healthcare provider, when a nurse succumbed to the virus. Tragically, on Monday a 9-year-old girl died from Covid-19 related MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children). This has shaken the island community to it’s core. Especially as it was also revealed that around 40 other children are seriously ill with similar symptoms.
On a more positive note, the island has started it’s vaccination programme after it was gifted a batch of the AZ/Oxford vaccine from India. M has registered for his, as a citizen with a serious underlying health condition, and we are waiting to hear when he will be offered an appointment.
As expected, the past couple of weeks have been very different to our lockdown experience in the UK. We get up at 5am every day, and leave the house at 6am to head to the beach to make the most of our 3 hour permitted exercise slot. We walk, jog or swim, and are usually back home just after 9am for coffee and breakfast. When we need to, we pick up some groceries on the way home.
I use the term “picking up some groceries” very loosely. Shopping has been the most challenging aspect of lockdown in Barbados. We tried to stock up as best as we could before the Pause but, by the second weekend, we were running out of a few things and fresh vegetables in particular. With all shops being closed on Saturday and Sunday, we thought we’d do a little shop on Friday. Well, it’s fair to say that we were well and truly shocked by the length of the queues, or lines, as they are referred to here. Every shop we tried, had long lines of people outside, winding around the block and down the street. Rather than stand in the blazing mid-morning sun for an hour or so, we decided to make do with what we had in the house and try again the following week.
We tried again on the Tuesday. We still had to queue but it wasn’t as bad as it appeared and, when we made it inside, the shop was uncrowded and well-stocked. Once we got ourselves into the right mindset, the soothing background tunes and the air conditioning helped to make it a relatively stress free experience. Nevertheless, we did a fairly big shop to avoid having to repeat the experience too often!
Other than going to the beach and the supermarket, our days have been spent sitting on the balcony, writing, reading, sewing, and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. In the second week, we were entertained by Mia’s (the Prime Minister) dulcet tones being broadcast from vehicles touring the island, reminding everyone of the need to stay at home, wear a mask and wash their hands, and motivating them to “beat Covid” together. It was quite strange and all felt a bit Orwellian, but doesn’t everything these days?
The upside of it all is that I have got lots of writing done. I have been so encouraged by the feedback on Wait for Me, that I have decided to write a sequel rather than re-visit The Ice Factory or start something new. It’s great fun writing about life in a Zombie Apocalypse and people seem to want more so why not? I have already written 6347 words! At this rate, I’ll have finished in a year or so! Well, we’ll see …
It’s my dad’s 93rd birthday today.
Happy Birthday Dad!