Where the hell are you going? – basic do's and don'ts for COVID-19 lockdown

The world is trying to deal with a pandemic, India included. Let's be sensible and deal with the lockdown imposed by the Central Government with some basic do's and don'ts to ensure the good health of everyone, not just ourselves and our family members, but others as well.

Pardon the yelling in the title. That is exactly what some of the Mayors of towns in Italy have been doing, a few of them with more colourful language. It is not surprising that they are getting angry and losing their cool. People are just not getting it. Even in India, they just think Coronavirus is nothing important. They don't like the idea of social distancing. It is time to get real, everyone. Do you want places in India to turn into ghost towns like those in Italy? And I'm not talking about deserted tourist spots due to a lockdown, but about towns with fewer and fewer people due to deaths.

India already has a number of spooky deserted places that attract tourists. Let's not literally create deserted places by not maintaining social distance as is required. Don't be a 'Covidiot' (that, in case you don't know, is the new slang word to describe a person who is ignoring public health warnings).

What is social distancing

Let me try to explain in simple words what social distancing means in the present scenario. See, the word social refers to our society of humans interacting with each other, of gatherings. Distance refers to a space between two points. Now the first part, of being social, is what we should not be doing. The second part of distancing is what we must do right now. Maintain a distance between you and others. As per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet).

Now, don't do stupid things like calling over your neighbours to your home and watching TV together or partying or playing Monopoly. That is exactly what you should not be doing. It should be only you and your family. N-o-b-o-d-y e-l-s-e. Got it?

Watch the YouTube video below.

Did you laugh? There are a few more such videos that will make you laugh but should also make you soberly realize that it's not really funny, that you must realize the enormity of the situation. COVID-19 is a pandemic that is spreading, not a passing-through visitor. We need to ensure that it does not become a permanent guest either.

Don'ts during a lockdown

As you can see from the above video, not only should you not be calling anyone over, but also you should not be going out or socializing in any way. Don't gather in groups to discuss things. Don't go out for a walk. Don't give the excuse of wanting to exercise. You can do so at home. You can jog on the spot, swing and stretch your arms, skip, jump…whatever. Don't gather together on the terrace or in the compound. Some people are interpreting social distance in their own way, saying it is Ok to go cycling or to the beach or walk in the park. No!

You have a vacation home somewhere? Don't climb into your car with bag, baggage, pets, kids…stay at home. Don't be foolish.

During the lockdown to stop the spread of Coronavirus, essential shops such as those selling groceries and pharmacies will be open. Milk, vegetables, and fruits will be available. This does not mean that every single day you should go out. More important, understand that you should buy only what you need for the time being. Stop buying things in bulk and hoarding. This is not the survival of the fittest type of TV reality show about outdoing somebody else and winning a million dollars. It is survival itself. You see, everyone needs food. Don't empty the shelves for your own selfish self.

Same with online purchases. Don't unnecessarily order stuff from e-commerce sites. Learn to pare down. Why do you need to create an elaborate gourmet meal?! Why do you need toothpaste when there are already two tubes at home? Why do you need two dozen soap bars when there are unopened ones in the bathroom? And why on earth do you need three bottles of Harpic? Don't endanger the lives of delivery personnel by ordering useless things.

Do's during a lockdown

Now let's see what you should be doing at home, inside.

Maintain sanity, share tasks

First and foremost, don't get crabby and irritable. I know it is tough to have so many family members in one cramped space all together at one time. Put some basic ground rules. Tell everyone: no matter what, before anyone shouts, they should take a deep, long breath, count to 20, and think – is it something worth shouting about? No! Did somebody throw a wet towel on the bed? Don't yell. Tell them quietly. A quiet and firm tone can be as impactful, believe me, as a yell to get your point across. Screaming expends wasteful energy. Avoid.

Another ground rule to lay down is the sharing of tasks around the home. There are no maids now, remember? So, let each person wash his/her own dish, glass, cup, etc. The larger utensils (those used for cooking) can be washed by one person, if possible, in rotation. Same with washing clothes and hanging them to dry. Family members have never done this before? Let them start now. Don't expect the ladies of the house alone to do all the work.

A third ground rule is if anyone is doing office work from home, give them their time and space. Find out whether there will be any online Skype calls and for how long. That way the cooker whistle going off, talking across the room, etc can end up in one really angry person yelling "Shut up! I am having an online chat with my Boss." I am telling this from personal experience.

Stay clean

Secondly, staying put at home does not mean you are on vacation from hygiene. Don't lounge around in the same clothes you wore the previous day, the whole of the next day. Yuck! Have a bath. Don't say, "Oh, but what's the rush? We're not going anywhere." Get up in the morning, brush your teeth, have a bath. Comb your hair. Be neat and clean. Same for the home. Keep it neat and clean. Share the task of sweeping and swabbing the floor (swabbing can be done once every few days so as not to waste the water). Recall with affection mummy's scoldings, too.

Stay calm

If you have run out of food or medicines and are unable to get further essential supplies, call up the local police or Municipal Corporation. Seek help through a neighbour (don't enter his/her home; maintain the social distance) or call a friend or acquaintance. In some cities, groups of volunteers are providing such services to senior citizens. Please confirm, though, if the contact numbers being passed around through WhatsApp are genuine. Similarly, don't go by WhatsApp messages about when to go to the market and buy essentials. In Mumbai, for example, somebody sent a WA message about specific times when newspapers, milk, vegetables, fruits, and groceries would be available. The Mumbai Police immediately posted on its Twitter account that it was a fake message.

Maintain routine

Stick to your routine schedule as much as possible. For example, I'm going nowhere. Yet, I put on a matching pair of earrings, dab talcum powder on my face, comb my hair neatly and spray a bit of perfume. I go about my routine housework as usual like any other day before starting work on my laptop. I am fortunate to have a home with lots of windows. Like on any other day, we keep them all open to let in sunlight and natural air. We only close them just before sunset to keep out mosquitoes. Like any other day.

We are also sticking to the time schedule of meals as well as sleep times at night. Simply because nobody has to get up early to head out to work does not mean you sit up late and do binge-watching till 2 a.m. Sleep is really, really important. In fact, take an afternoon nap too, about one hour after your meal.

Speak, lend an ear

Call people, especially those who stay alone and especially those who are elderly. Let them hear your voice. They love talking, talking, talking – it never ends? Don't get exasperated. Getting late? Where are you going? Nowhere. Listen. Have conversations not related to the virus. Share funny jokes. What you can forward to them on WhatsApp are some interesting things as per their interest, such as -
(i) Free streaming of Operas
(ii) Virtual tours of gardens (example: https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/gardening/g31746949/gardens-you-can-virtually-tour/);
(iii) Amazing architecture
(iv) Exploring arts and culture from around the globe, including India (https://artsandculture.google.com/).

Similarly, you may get a call from a friend who is overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of managing many people at home (in-laws, spouse, hyperactive kids – too much!) and cannot cope. Lend an ear. Talk in a soothing manner. Releasing their tension is good for them.

And a final request-

Take care what news you share

Don't share macabre death Stats. Not everyone can absorb such news. They'll just get distressed, stressed more and panic more. In any case, everything is a click away, so if anybody wants to know, they can look it up themselves, isn't it?

And yeah, stay updated on what's happening and know about rules and regulations from authentic sources instead of spreading myths and rumours about Coronavirus. Here are some useful links-
https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/ndma%20order%20copy.pdf (dated 24th March 2020).
https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/Guidelines.pdf (dated 24th March 2020).

Don't be a Covidiot. Stay indoors, stay safe and keep others safe.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

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