Br(u)no: State of Emergency X Pandemic Fatigue
Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.
My friend recently told me a funny story. A friendly couple whom he had never met came up to him and stuck out their hands in the normal way that people do. He, like normal people do, reciprocated and shook their hands.
But, he said, it felt like he was sticking his hand into a toilet.
I agree with him. How, exactly, are we supposed to greet people anymore?
More generally, how exactly do we make sense of anything anymore?
The Czech Republic is in a State of Emergency. Or, perhaps, that should be written as STATE OF EMERGENCY. Additional restrictions have been put in place to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Does it feel like it? I’m not so sure.
Everything is just so confusing. All week we were told that there would be more restrictions announced on Friday. Then, we got them on Thursday because the numbers were so alarming. And the array of rules only add confusion. The text makes sense when you read it or have it explained, but then, when you venture out into the world, there are exceptions everywhere that require your own interpretation.
Throughout this city, people are having the same uneasy conversations, theoretically two meters apart. Will that store be open? Will these theatre tickets be honored? Can I play squash? Must I wear a facemask when I am ordering food? Should we bump elbows or bow?
Newspapers around the world have stories that conflict right next to each other. The New York Times on Friday had a story about how US President Donald Trump was going to resume political rallies less than a week after he left the hospital after being infected with the coronavirus. Right next to that was a story about how all 41 Broadway theatres in New York would be closed until May 30, which will be 444 days after they were originally closed at the onset of this pandemic. How exactly are we supposed to square these things?
The numbers of daily coronavirus infections are huge and growing. The colder weather will probably make things worse. And these latest restrictions in the Czech Republic are no laughing matter. Yet, it really feels like we’ve been lulled into complacency and pandemic fatigue has set in.
And that is the problem. Perhaps, rather than suspend the first-Wednesday-of-the-month emergency-system tests out of fear of alarming people, they should actually use the alarms to, you know, raise the alarm.
* * *
I believe this is a real global emergency and I am adjusting accordingly. Yet, as I have heard used dismissively several times, “it is what it is”. Except the first “it” is a deadly virus, the first “is” is the danger that it poses, the second “it” is our circumstances, and the second “is” is how we respond.
Or something like that.
Like I said, it’s all so very confusing.