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    Life in Actual Lockdown – Reflections from the Philippines

    The word lockdown has been used to describe many of the restrictions that have been put in place due to COVID-19. However, while many Australians say we have been living in lockdown, the reality is we still had a fair bit of freedom, even before restrictions began easing.

    • Department stores, shops and a range of services remained open, public transport continued to operate, and we were still allowed to leave our homes to exercise. Unfortunately for our teammates in the Philippines, they didn’t have these luxuries.

      For Chonna, Josh, and Ray, life changed dramatically as strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines were imposed by the government from March 17. These guidelines included:

      • Home quarantine passes were issued to household members so they could leave their houses to buy basic necessities. Only one person was allowed to go out of their homes to visit places such as supermarkets, convenience stores, wet markets, pharmacies, banks, and remittance centres.
      • ID and proof of residence had to be carried at all times and be presented at designated checkpoints.
      • Masks were compulsory when leaving your home, and you were not allowed to enter an establishment without a mask.
      • No public transportation was allowed to operate.

      Initially, these measures were to be in place until April 12, but, the lockdown was extended until April 30 and then May 15. ECG measures were eased in some parts of the country last week with a modified, enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) introduced which saw some measures relaxed, limiting the movement of people, and malls, restaurants, and essential services now open. These measures will be in place until May 31 at this stage.

      Obviously the Philippines lockdown measures were much stricter than anything we faced here in Australia, so we asked Chonna, Josh, and Ray what life in lockdown has been like and what they’re looking forward to with restrictions slowly easing.


      How have you coped with life in lockdown?

      Chonna: At first, it was hard. We got the news on March 16 after office hours, so we only had a couple of hours to go back to the office to get our computers. The next day I was working from home, which I haven’t experienced before. We didn’t really have a choice except to jump and accept the new way of how you do things, as this invisible enemy brings huge stress and anxiety to people.

      Josh: It is a family effort. I disrupted the ecosystem of our home when I brought the work home. I have to respect everyone’s space, especially my children running and playing around. I sometimes play with them, cook for them, and teach them a thing or two.

      Ray: One thing that I realised was to be flexible at all times. Prepare for the worst and always have a sense of pessimism (but remain optimistic at all cost).
       

      What’s been one good thing you’ve found about lockdown?

      Chonna: Not to wake up that early and drive yourself to the office to get good parking. With work from home, I wake up a bit later, take a bath, have breakfast, and go to my special office space (living room) in our house.

      Josh: The good thing is I have plenty of time with my children, and because they can’t go outside, they have no choice but to treat me as one of their playmates.

      Ray: I was able to save a lot during the lockdown and what’s more is that I produced less pollution as I am staying home and not driving a car, etc.
       

      On the flip side, what has been the worst thing about lockdown?

      Chonna: Fear of going outside because you think you might get the virus. The number of cases continues to increase each day.

      Josh: A bad thing, since your movements are limited, you can’t mingle.

      Ray: The bad thing is the electricity bill skyrocketed and, the social meter is a bit low considering that I’m alone.
       

      What is the first thing you will do when you’re allowed out of lockdown?

      Chonna: The first thing I will do is to eat out with family, go to the salon and get a massage.

      Josh: Dine with my family at our favourite restaurant.

      Ray: Basically, all out! Eat, explore and enjoy every moment knowing how it feels to be locked down.

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