Frequent Label volunteer, Meg Jocson Ong, reflects on her experience and thoughts surrounding the enforced lockdown which COVID-19 has imposed upon us in this article.
The Low-Down on Lockdown
Empty streets, quiet neighbourhoods, messed up sleep schedules – just three of many aspects of 2020’s COVID-19 quarantine situation. I’m writing this on the third week of quarantine, and this my low-down on lockdown.
I can’t be the only one who is still in shock from what the past month has brought us. As a final year student, I was focused on drilling down on work alongside spending precious time with my flat mates and friends as we draw close to the end of our university lives. Suddenly having to pack my luggage and fly halfway around the world to go back home in a span of 48 hours because of COVID-19 was both startling and hazy. I didn’t even realise that this would be the last time I would be in Loughborough as a student. Coming home suddenly to a quiet city was unusual and certainly eerie. Manila, like many other capital cities, is normally jam packed with cars and smog – but it is currently a ghost town. It’s as if the outside world has suddenly hit pause, and everything is at a standstill.
When I go online, I see posts after posts about precautionary measures everyone must take to abide by the quarantine guidelines. People are selling face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers way above its normal value. Anti-bacterial wipes and sprays are like gold and finding toilet paper or pasta in the supermarket is like winning a jackpot. Our society is going mad with stock buying and hoarding that they sometimes forget that there are so many people out there who can’t even afford to buy it even before the pandemic.
There are certain parts of this quarantine period that make me thankful. Something as small as calling my friends and spending extra time with my family is currently keeping me sane. We are also finding so many new and creative ways to go about our normal day while practicing social distancing. Online pub quizzes and the revival of childhood online games such as Club Penguin and Animal Crossing are providing us with the social interaction we seek during this unfortunate time. Alongside social interaction, I am thankful to see so many people online supporting our front liners. It is heart-warming to see our society come together as one to show gratitude towards people who are risking their lives to protect us.
It does have me wondering if society will change after this experience. Will we treasure time more? Will we do what we’ve been holding off from doing after the quarantine is lifted? Will the government prepare for the next possible pandemic? I can only imagine right now what those first few days out of quarantine will feel like. Since I do not have a balcony or a garden, the first thing I’ll look forward to is the sunshine on my skin and a breath of fresh air (I have not been out since I stepped foot in my apartment three weeks ago). I personally will treasure the outdoors more. I cannot wait to feel the excitement of seeing my friends in person instead of on my screen. I cannot wait to go to public spaces and interact with others outside of my household. However, I can imagine people being more precautious with hygiene and possibly cautious with social interaction. After a month or more of social distancing, how long will it take for people to trust each other again in a public social space?
I hope that when we look back at this period in the future, we remember how much we need to cherish the company of our friends and family and that we need to spend our time wisely. There’s no time like the present and every second of it counts. In the meantime, keep on practicing social distancing and keep showing your support to each other during this dark time. That first day after quarantine will feel like the beginning of a new life.
Article written by Meg Jocson Ong
Header image designed by Sarah Hannaford