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Lockdown over the World

Merulana St normally full of traffic and now during this pandemic time empty

Rome, Italy

Since March 9th Italy has been in quarantine. After the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the north of the country, the number of infected people has risen quickly. There are almost 190,000 cases now. In the beginning, the government was a bit reluctant to adopt measures to contain the spread of the virus, in fear it would stop the economy. However, they soon realised it was the best thing to do. The northern region was the most affected with the virus, with the collapse of the health system.

Rome, the capital of the country and a tourist mecca. Thousands of people visit the “Eternal City” every year. During this pandemic time, the streets are pretty much empty, with only a few people circulating, due to the social isolation recommended by OMS. It very clear that the sound and visual pollution has reduced, with less cars on the streets: we can even hear the birds singing, seems like the sky is bluer and the vegetation greener with more flowers.

Each person reacts in a different way to our Covid-19 situation, but there are few common ones. Just after the rise of the confirmed cases and number of deaths, you could sense the fear amongst the population: people didn’t know what would happen and when this would stop. There was a nation coming together and determination to stop the virus, support to the people on the front line fighting the virus (nurses, doctors), and a lot of solidarity gestures with the ill and their relatives. Another beautiful aspect we could observe was how people would communicate and entertain other from their buildings and internet, with songs and presentations. The government straight away offered mental health support for whoever needed it.

Based on what we are seeing, the worse part of spread in Italy is gone. Now they are considering the second phase, slowly opening some industries and businesses, trying to keep the social distance. The next steps would depend on the reduction of the spread of Covid-19 and it’s hard to make any prediction. People are looking forward to return to their normal lives, to meet with each other, hug each other. However, there is the conscience that this return can’t be so rushed, to avoid the spread to grow again.

Internet and other social media are being, for many, big allies during this pandemic. Personally, I’m following some courses about Philosophy, and trying to learn new languages. Many schools and universities have employed this method of teaching. I’m fine and very busy with my studies. I use my free time  to exercise, watch movies and other things. I never had any spare time before the pandemic. I try to follow, as much as possible, all recommendations from the health system, with the hope this situation will soon vanish and we can get back to normal, stronger and a little bit more human to each other.
Cláudio André Lottermann


Nice, France

“We have been in lockdown since March 17, my husband, son and I. To be completely honest we are finding it tough, really tough! Very strict.

Life in an apartment is hard. Spring is here and we can’t be outside enjoying it. The kids miss school and all their friends as do I. It is extremely hard to become motivated.
No outside at all except food shopping alone with masks and gloves. Isolated. Miss my friends. Miss exercise. Miss nature.

Hayley Redenbach


Skåne, Sweden

There is no doubt that Sweden, like the rest of the world, is impacted by COVID-19. Watching the news and hearing/reading updates from friends and family, it seems that we have several magnitudes more freedom than many countries, and as selfish as it sounds, at times one can even forget that the world is in the midst of a pandemic.

Let me be clear, Sweden is affected and people are dying of COVID-19. At the time of writing there are over 1500 deaths [1] in Sweden. While this may seem limited compared to the likes of Italy, is still significantly more than our Nordic neighbors and over 1500 more than NZ.

COVID-19 dominates the media here, and every news broadcast is predominately focused on this, which is of course to be expected. Stockholm has significantly more infections at this stage, but our experts say we can expect a steep incline in the south in May, with the peak in June [2].

Many other countries see Sweden’s “hands-off” approach as fairly unique, others call it an experiment that gambles with peoples lives… The approach relies on the people to make good judgment – stay home if you have cold symptoms, practice social distancing. On the other hand, the economy and workforce is already taking a huge hit especially the likes of the service industry such as restaurants [3], bars and of course aviation. The major result is that a lot of people have been temporarily laid off (but note, this is not the same as being fired) with our national airline Scandinavian Airlines temporarily ceasing nearly all operations and laying off 90% of their staff [4] – it’s a tough time for many. My fiance is working at the hospital, and so far there is no sign of layoffs at my company so we have not been affected at this stage financially by the crisis.

The government relies heavily on our experts at Folkhälsomyndigheten (the organization which can be likened to the Ministry of Health in NZ). Their predictions/recommendations are all over the show and often not consistent with what they have said previously – but, to be fair, no-one really knows the best course of action. Initially the government imposed a restriction on crowd sizes which could be no more than 500 [5], and now that limit is down to 50 [6]. The government has threatened to come in with the “heavy gloves” and penalize restaurants/cafes that do not provide sufficient distancing between the tables.

The requirement to take a “karensdag”  (your first day of your sickness leave is normally docked) has been relaxed under Carona times [7] and the government is offering financial aide to small and large businesses [8].

Europe’s borders are porous, and containing the spread of the virus has not been easy. I do admire the approach Jacinda has taken in closing NZ’s borders, enforcing a lockdown and protecting the citizens. I feel more could have been done here to limit the spread and time will tell which approach was best, and at what cost. At the same time, it’s nice that life has not come to a complete stop.

Marcus Prebble