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With the overwhelm of media coverage on coronavirus right now, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. One minute we’re seeing empty shelves at Target, and the next minute we’re led to believe that the media is blowing everything out of proportion. So, which is it? And how far do we need to step away from our daily activities to quarantine ourselves from the outside world?
While we may not have the answer to that particular question for you, we do have the following perspectives from individuals around the world on their experiences with COVID-19. Please keep in mind that these are merely individuals’ views and not meant to be authoritative or instructive in any way. Hopefully these stories will provide you with a deeper insight into how coronavirus is impacting daily life around the world.
14,426 Cases | 258 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Schools are all cancelled, and students are taking their classes online. The majority of people are working from home (especially starting this week), but some are still physically going in to work. People are pretty good with social distancing, and more restaurants are becoming either drive-thru or take-out only, or closing completely.
Supermarkets are still open, but some products that are in high demand are harder to come by. I am currently self quarantining because I just returned from international travels, but my mom stopped by the supermarket earlier today. She said that there weren’t that many people there, and the products were pretty well-stocked.
The situation has escalated significantly in the last few days, with more recommendations and restrictions placed by the Canadian government. The Canadian government has asked everyone who travelled abroad recently to self-quarantine for 14 days, and Canada has officially closed its borders to everyone other than Canadian citizens and permanent residents, US citizens, and immediate family of Canadian citizens. -Hope from Toronto, Ontario
3/18 UPDATE: Canada and the US will be temporarily closing their shared border to non-essential traffic.
3/23 UDPATE: All non-essential workplaces in the province of Ontario will be closed as of 11:59pm on March 24, 2020 for 14 days.
321,423 Cases | 9,129 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Some people are still going to work (including the CEO of my company who rides his bike to work), but most people, especially those who take public transportation to get to work, are working from home. Schools are closed, and universities are holding their classes online.
The mayor is considering a ‘shelter in place’ order (more or less a full-city lockdown), and will make the decision in the next 48 hours. People have started taking social distancing more seriously. Last weekend, Uber drivers were still dropping people off at bars/restaurants, but those are all closed now so the streets are pretty empty.
Supermarkets are still open, but a lot of things are out of stock including toilet paper, pasta, and frozen foods. Many things are starting to become catered towards the virus, including food delivery apps which now include an option to drop food off outside the door so human interaction is not necessary. -Tricia from New York City, USA
3/18 UPDATE: Canada and the US will be temporarily closing their shared border to non-essential traffic.
3/23 UPDATE: Multiple states, including New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut now have stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, where all non-essential businesses have been ordered to close and residents are asked to stay at home except for absolute necessities, like getting groceries. Yesterday (3/22), the President announced that he would be sending the national guard into three states: New York, California, and Washington to aid in relief efforts.
1,890 Cases | 79 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
I am a bachelor student and since the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, my university has prepared an online plan. I haven’t had classes since Friday 3/13 because my teachers are being trained to use online platforms such as Zoom and Canvas for classes starting 3/23.
The government has not given the right information. At the beginning, they were hiding some cases saying that it was H1N1 influence, which I think they did so people wouldn’t panic. When everyone found out though, they started panic buying basic things like toilet paper, sanitizer, etc.
At the time (3/19), I’m able to go to supermarkets or pharmacies with no problem, but people aren’t always following the government protocol of staying isolated or going out with mouth covers here. However, we are trying to avoid greeting each other with hugs and kisses as we normally would. -Erick from Mexico City, Mexico
37 Cases | 0 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Until five days ago (March 11, 2020), life in Bermuda was normal, and the virus seemed distant. Over the weekend, however, most businesses, including mine, declared that starting this week, everyone will be working from home.
Personally, I am limiting my interactions with friends as my housemate just got back from Canada yesterday and is in self-quarantine. A lot of my social interactions involve going outdoors and going to the beach, so I will likely continue to do this. However, I will not be coming in close proximity to others (the beaches here aren’t particularly popular in March anyway). I am able to go to the store and make purchases, but there is no hand sanitizer left, and some grocery store shelves are empty. The grocery stores here are restocked almost daily, though, and most restaurants and shops have hand sanitizer at the front for customers to use.
The Bermuda government has cancelled all events consisting of more than 50 people and has required all passengers on incoming flights to self-quarantine for 14 days. Schools and daycares have been closed, but the college remains open. Churches are suspending activities, but as of right now, restaurants and bars remain open for dine-in customers. There is a travel ban in place that prohibits any visitor who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, and Korea to come to the island. I believe all cruise ships coming into Bermuda have been cancelled as well. – Margaret from Bermuda
3/18 UPDATE: As of today, there are two confirmed cases on the island. Both individuals are in recovery and not being hospitalized.
3/19 UPDATE: Schools, daycares, and colleges are all closed now. The government is urging all non-essential services to close. Restaurants have transitioned to offering take away. As of midnight on March 20, the airport is closing and no one will be able to leave the island or come to the island.
3/23 UPDATE: There are now six confirmed cases on the island, and the government has officially closed the border. There are no more incoming or outgoing flights, and as of tomorrow, all non-essential businesses will be closed as of 5pm. The government has a list of people from inbound flights over the last few weeks who are mandated to self-quarantine for 14 days. Police are manning the streets and stopping traffic to check if people are abiding by the self-quarantine, and if anyone is not, they will be subject to a fine. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, and the government is in the process of setting up a testing facility at the hospital to start aggressively testing now that we’re able to conduct the test on the island rather than sending the testing overseas for results.
3/29 UPDATE: We now have 22 confirmed cases on the island. Two people are hospitalized and in stable condition, and two people have fully recovered. The government is implementing a curfew from 8pm-6am daily. If you want to be outside past curfew, you need to get a waiver stating that you have a valid reason to be outside (i.e. you’re an employee for an essential service).
4/4 UPDATE: Bermuda is under 24 hour lockdown for the next 14 days. Essential services remain open.
97,351 Cases | 1,479 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Work and school are mostly cancelled right now. Some private schools stayed open with optional in-person attendance, but there was an email sent today saying that the government mandated all the schools to close. Public schools closed even earlier than private schools. Universities are closed and in-person exams are being cancelled, with some being moved either online or delayed to the following school year, and others being fully cancelled. Bars/clubs/cafes are closed, but grocery stores and some restaurants are still open. People are practicing ‘hamsterkauf’, which can also be interpreted as panic buying. Aisles are clearing out, and products are being taken before they even make it on the shelves.
Berlin was behind other German cities in severity of the virus, but the situation has grown exponentially over the last few days and many changes were very recently enacted. People generally seem to be taking the situation and social distancing seriously, and if anyone has even mild symptoms (like a cough), they are getting tested and staying at home. When taking the bus during rush hour today, there were tons of empty seats that normally would be fully occupied.
The government closed its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg this morning, and are being flexible with visas for people who need to go into an office to get them renewed. Germany has a higher hospital bed-to-person ratio and are seen as one of the more medically prepared countries in the EU, and they are actively working on finding a vaccine. – Claire from Berlin, Germany
1,486 Cases | 4 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
I have been vacationing in Tenerife, Spain for the last week, so I may not be the most up to date on what daily life looks like in Iceland right now. However, I can speak to some actions the government has been taking recently. Anyone who has been to a high alert area such as Spain, where we’ve been for the last week, will face 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon returning to Iceland. As such, our family won’t be able to leave the house for two weeks after returning to Iceland, but everyone else can still move around as they wish, as long as they are not congregating in a group of more than 100 people.
Some grocery stores have recently taken the initiative to allow the elderly and immunocompromised to shop on their own for a few hours before the store opens to the public. Employees who are able to work online are allowed to work from home, or take shifts to go into work. The government has also said that they will be paying those who are unable to work due to the quarantine and that mortgage payments have been deferred for the time being. – Amanda from Reykjavik, Iceland
UPDATE 3/23: Some businesses and public spaces that are now closed or closing soon include swimming pools, fitness centers, libraries, museums, hairdressers, nail salons, and even the STD clinic. The Blue Lagoon has also closed until at least the end of April. Schools and public transportation are still functional at the moment.
124,632 Cases | 15,362 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Everyone in Italy is staying home nowadays, and no social interaction is permitted other than with the people you live with, or if you need to visit someone in case of an emergency. You’re only allowed to go outside to go to the supermarket or for a short jog or walk. If the carabinieri see you outside and your destination isn’t the supermarket or a short jog or walk with your dog, you’ll receive a fine. In addition, if you have visible symptoms or have been tested positive and step outside of your home, you will be charged with voluntary homicide. If you try to leave your region, you’ll be stopped by the military.
Italians are very family oriented, and younger members of the family do all the shopping for their grandparents so that they don’t need to leave their homes. Only one person per family can enter the supermarket at one time, and children are not permitted inside at all. Everyone inside the supermarket must maintain at least one meter distance between themselves and any other customer. The line to get into the supermarket usually takes around 45 minutes, so you should block off about two hours total for a trip to the supermarket. You’ll see most people outside wearing masks and washing their hands as frequently as possible. Also, fun fact: Italians are in the habit of meeting up with their friends for an aperitivo at around 6pm every day, and the coronavirus hasn’t stopped them – they’ve just switched these in person happy hours to virtual happy hours via WhatsApp.
Finally, the government has stepped in to help people out financially during this time. Full time employees will be paid their entire salaries, even if they are no longer working, and families will receive a babysitter voucher. Also, the government signed a bill to stop mortgage payments and utilities, and is offering a 600 euro subsidy to small business. – Aleksandra from Milan, Italy
811 Cases | 12 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
All educational institutions in Lithuania are closed for two weeks (with likely extension). Universities are closed, but studies continue remotely. We’re still adapting to this new lifestyle, given the fact that preventative measures are relatively fresh. Most changes feel quite normal, but I do miss my daily coffee routine and other daily activities, like going to the gym, that are no longer possible since all stores, except pharmacies and grocery stores, have closed. Luckily there hasn’t been a shortage of groceries yet. All social interactions are moving online, as there’s not much to do in person anymore with all bars, restaurants, and cafes closed.
To be honest, there’s not much of a panic here yet since we don’t have that many cases. Many people are not taking any drastic precautions beyond what is required by the government. Citizens are no longer allowed to leave the country for the duration of the quarantine, and only foreign nationals who work and permanently live in Lithuania will be allowed to enter. All stores, except pharmacies and grocery stores, are closed, as well as all cafes and bars. All public events with more than 100 people, whether indoors or outdoors, are banned, and theaters, museums, cinemas, etc. have all been ordered to close, so self-isolation kind of happens on its own as a result. You can read about all the precautions the government has enacted so far here. – Denis from Vilnius, Lithuania
5,686 Cases | 70 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
In Norway, people generally do a good job of practicing hygiene, staying at home as much as they can, and keeping their distance in public. Everything is closed in terms of schools, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, etc., and I feel most people don’t really want to be social right now anyway. All my friends are super social on social media though – the app Houseparty is very popular. Anyone who can work from home is working from home in order to keep public transportation clean for those who have to use it to get to work. There’s a river in Oslo (Akerselva) that’s good for a nice walk or run – it’s the most crowded place in Oslo now. Stores are decently stocked, and I can go and buy whatever I want and it’s not too crowded.
The government in Norway has done a lot. Anyone who arrives at the Oslo airport and is not Norwegian is offered a 14 day stay at a hotel in quarantine before entering the country. Any Norwegian who has been traveling or comes in contact with someone who’s infected is quarantined for 14 days, and you’ll receive a massive fine if you break your quarantine. Today (March 16, 2020), the government released an economic crisis package, giving everybody who’s temporarily laid off 20 days of full pay. The government is also postponing certain taxes for small businesses.
One thing the government is not doing, however, is testing people. Right now the government is aware of 1,319 infected people, but they’re not testing anyone who’s not in the healthcare industry or who doesn’t have serious symptoms. Thus, we have no idea how many people are actually infected or how many people have had it and are now immune. The government is also considering deporting anyone who doesn’t have valid papers to stay in the country, which would affect a lot of people negatively, including beggars. – Ingrid from Oslo, Norway
3,864 Cases | 151 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
I’m currently doing an ESC volunteer program in Romania, and my project is focused on working with kids and youth, so schools are technically my job. However, since March 11, 2020, all schools in the country have been closed. Today (March 16, 2020), Romania entered into a state of emergency. We don’t know many details about it yet, but it’s assumed that we (everyone except people with essential jobs) won’t be allowed to leave the house unless we need to buy groceries.
Speaking of groceries, there is hand sanitizer available or customers to use at every grocery store and signs telling people not to stand closer than one meter from one another. Larger stores only allow people to come in one by one or in small groups. Many products, including hand sanitizer, are gone from supermarkets, so people are scared and trying to hoard as much as they can. Some restaurants and shops have hand sanitizer available for visitors, and some restaurants are being disinfected and cleaned very frequently, as far as I could see before I entered quarantine. Some people on the streets wear masks, but not that many. Everyone washes their hands as soon as they enter into a building.
The country borders are now closed, so no one can enter into or exit Romania. Also, any gathering of over 50 people is not allowed. Because I live with six of my volunteer colleagues, who also happen to be my closest friends here, my social interaction hasn’t really suffered at all. Outside of my housemates, I pretty much just chat with everyone online, and it doesn’t feel too isolating. – Alice from Constanta, Romania
3/19 UPDATE: Romania recently declared a state of emergency, which means that (1) all restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars, and other hospitality units are closed (delivery and drive through service still available), (2) all indoor cultural, religious, scientific, sports, and leisure events are banned, as well as outdoor events with more than 100 people, and (3) all flights to and from Spain will be suspended for 14 days starting on March 23, 2020.
3/23 UPDATE: People are now only allowed to leave the house for groceries, essential jobs, and to walk the dog or have a short jog around the neighborhoods, and no one is allowed to leave the house in groups of more than three people. If you want to leave the house after 10pm, you need to fill out a form with your name, surname, date of birth, address, and purpose of leaving the house.
3/24 UPDATE: Starting tomorrow (3/25), everyone will have to carry their papers and passports with them anytime they leave the house to go to the supermarket. The hours of 11:00am to 1:00pm will be reserved for the elderly, so others are prohibited from leaving their house during those hours.
130,759 Cases | 12,418 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Mandatory quarantine just started today (March 16, 2020), which means people are only allowed to go outside for necessities, like the supermarket, pharmacy, hospital, walking their dogs, etc. Most people have been told they can work from home, or they’re not working at all. My boyfriend’s company is located inside a technology park, and the entire technology park is shut down now. Everyone who is still working (healthcare workers, pharmacists, supermarket workers, etc.) are wearing masks and gloves.
Bars, restaurants, parks, and anywhere you would go with friends are closed. The grocery store is sold out of a lot of things. For example, today there were very slim options for bread, no eggs, and very few meat products left, but there is definitely still food available. Hand sanitizer has been sold out for weeks, and there’s no more rubbing alcohol or masks left either. Funny enough, there was a ton of toilet paper but all in smaller packages of six rolls. All of the workers at the grocery store wore masks and cleaned each checkout lane after just a few customers. Everyone stands quite far away from each other in the store, and it almost feels like an awkward “ooooh can’t go within a meter or else you’ll get cooties!” kind of situation. A lot of people are turning to video calls and using voice messages more to connect with friends.
One really nice thing amidst the chaos is that every night at 8:00pm, everyone all throughout Spain opens their windows and claps for the doctors and nurses and all the people working through this, as a way to thank the workers but also to connect with their neighbors and acknowledge that “We’re still here and we’re going to get through this together.” – Meredith from Málaga, Spain
47,806 Cases | 5,903 Deaths [Updated April 5, 2020]
Work hasn’t changed much, they are just reminding us to wash our hands regularly and use hand sanitizer. People are still more or less hanging out with each other. However, there has been a big change in the shops. Most employees are now wearing gloves, and certain items are restricted because hoarding has led to shortages (mainly tissue and hand sanitizer).
In terms of individual precautions, most people are now carrying hand sanitizer and being more careful about cleanliness in that regard. The government is not taking many additional precautions. The UK government is poor and basically just said we should wash our hands frequently and avoid stockpiling supplies. They continue to keep schools open, even though most of the European nations have closed their schools. – Jeremie from London, UK
170 Cases | 2 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Daily life in Georgia (Sakartvelo is what Georgians call our country) is paused. It feels like we’re in a movie about an apocalypse. Streets are almost empty and there are few cars still driving. The government prohibited all public transport which connects big cities to each other. No school is working until 26th April. People are working remote but unfortunately, I work in tourism so I can’t work remote. Thousands of my colleagues in the tourism industry are going through this problem as well.
Banks are mostly closed. A few of them operate but with limited opening hours. The government recommends not to hold any big meetings. My friends and I also try to follow these recommendations so I don’t go outside a lot.
I have a farm in the countryside, so I moved my family there. I leave my home only to do some shopping. We are still able to go to stores and make purchases. The government said that we have supplies in stock for 2-3 months.
People follow recommendations and wash their hands and sterilise them often with antibacterial fluid. I wish that everything will be finished as soon as possible. It’s a pity and sad to see how a world in the 21st century could become so weak against a small virus that can kill people and destroy economies. – Giorgi from Tbilisi, Georgia
323 Cases | 5 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Daily life has changed dramatically over the course of the past couple of weeks. As of this week schools and universities are closed for two weeks, and as of this morning (March 17, 2020), all cafes, restaurants, and bars are closed for the foreseeable future. Stores remain open for the time being, although we did stock up yesterday, just in case. Churches and Mosques were also closed last week, so effectively any opportunity to gather in public has been closed.
Jordan has been pretty aggressive, as have most Middle Eastern countries. Restrictions had been placed on people traveling from China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran within 14-days for well over a month now, and slowly as COVID-19 moved to Europe, restrictions were placed on travel from Spain, France, and Germany. As of last night, there are no longer flights in or out of Jordan, and everyone who arrived on the last day Amman airport was open had to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they presented any symptoms. The borders were closed early last week, and now with air travel closed, it’s a strange feeling to be here with no idea of when everything will reopen. The hotels that people are being quarantined at are at the Dead Sea, so it’s really not as bad as it could be. I believe diplomats are being “held” at the Kempinski! People here are confident in the government’s response to the virus, and now it’s just a matter of time until all active cases are resolved. – Albert from Amman, Jordan
3/18 UPDATE: Military has been deployed to make sure people don’t leave cities, and there’s a curfew in place starting today at 8am for the next two weeks. No one is allowed to leave their homes other than essential workers in the security and healthcare sectors, and even supermarkets are closed. There was a mad dash to the supermarket yesterday afternoon, and people bought everything they could carry. Delivery is also an option, so if you run out of food, you can order delivery from restaurants. All businesses in both the public and private sectors have closed down except for the security and healthcare industries.
81,669 Cases | 3,329 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Everyone’s staying at home, and no one is going to any public places. I work at a school, and all the students are studying online. People are practicing social distancing and use WeChat, QQ, or call each other to communicate. When I go outside, I always wear a mask, and when I come home, I spray everything down with disinfectants.
The supermarkets are all still open, and the shelves are full with everything we need. However, you have to wear a mask and have your temperature measured in order to go into the supermarket. They’re also controlling how many people they let in at once. The small districts in my city are also measuring peoples temperature and having them sign in before they can enter. Some public bus lines have closed, and subways are running less.
The government has stopped all work, including factories. They are also still keeping schools closed, as well as all non-essential stores (restaurants, malls, entertainment venues). -Xiaoyu from Nanjing, Jiangsu
2,273 Cases | 198 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Schools in Jakarta are now closed. Parents are taking this opportunity to take holidays so now there’s bad traffic to vacation spots Puncak and Bandung, but there is no traffic otherwise.
The government is advising businesses to allow their employees to work from home but many traditional businesses aren’t able to. Instead, they monitor the temperature of their staff and if anyone is above 38 celsius, they are sent home for 14 days. They are also cutting schedules for public transportation, so now public transportation is a mess (huge crowds in buses, bus stops, and train stations, which defeats the purpose of avoiding large group gatherings), and people are leaving work early to avoid rush hour.
Most stores are still open and operating at normal hours, and I’ve had no problems making purchases or going to restaurants. We still need to wear masks at all times, and we always have hand sanitizer with us. It has gotten to the point where people are making their own hand sanitizers because of high prices and low supply.
The president drinks temulawak, jahe & kunyit (jamu) for precaution and now everyone is doing that. The government is also advising people to avoid social and religious gatherings. People are avoiding social gatherings, crowds and going to the malls. Marriage events are postponed, and people are cooking more at home. Hospitals in Jakarta are not accepting any more patients because other than COVID-19 patients, we also have many Dengue Fever patients. – Livia from Jakarta, Indonesia
3,139 Cases | 77 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Okinawa has only had three confirmed cases, and all of those individuals have recovered completely, so there has been less of an impact here. We’ve also been living this for a lot longer. I’m in the military, and I travel quite a bit for work, so I may not be the best person to say what the impact has been on the average Japanese person, but for me when I was traveling in January and February, I could already see the impact. Every employee at the Japanese airport was wearing masks, and there is hand sanitizer available everywhere to use. The airports were also pretty much empty. Today, if you’ve been in an airport, you have to go into quarantine for 14 days.
No one on Okinawa is really practicing social distancing, but I’m not sure about the situation on mainland Japan. I know that Japanese work culture is definitely not supportive of working from home, though, so I doubt anyone has moved to a remote setting for their jobs. When I went skiing last weekend, the slopes were pretty empty, but every grocery store and restaurant had a huge bottle of hand sanitizer for customers to use as soon as they walk in. Also, grocery stores are pretty fully stocked. There is a regulation of one package of masks per person, but that’s the only change I’ve seen.
The Japanese government shut down schools in early March, and there’s increased testing at airports. Also, if you’ve been to Korea or China, you’re not allowed in. Other than that, there haven’t really been any government mandates in place here to curb coronavirus. – Jasmine from Okinawa, Japan
1,309 Cases | 6 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Currently, life in Singapore is pretty normal. I am a teacher, and schools are still in session. There are strict orders from the government that all employees and students must have their temperatures checked twice a day and recorded, and everyone has been participating. My social interactions are still pretty normal as well. Restaurants, bars, and malls may be a bit less busy than usual but still have a steady flow of people. Most shopping malls will check your temperature before you can enter. When Malaysia closed its borders yesterday (March 16, 2020), people here started to panic a little and rushed to the stores, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen in the U.S.
Hand sanitizer can be found everywhere here – outside of almost every grocery store and shopping mall. Staff at stores and malls are constantly cleaning, wiping down escalator railings, etc. It’s about 50/50 right now with people who wear masks outside and those that don’t. For the most part, people haven’t really made a conscious effort to stay indoors here yet.
Singapore has done an excellent job with tracking every case from the beginning and requiring anyone coming in from China to be quarantined for 14 days. Today, anyone who comes to Singapore is required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The government is monitoring this through people’s cell phones, and anyone who does not comply will have their permanent residency or employment pass taken away immediately and sent back to their home country. I am hopeful that we can stay on track and confident that the Singapore government will not hesitate to cancel schools or implement other precautions if they see things getting worse here. – Courtney from Singapore
3/18 UPDATE: Yesterday, Malaysia closed all its borders, which will impact tons of Malaysians who come across the border to Singapore every day to work. Many Malaysians have chosen to stay in Singapore, risking being stuck here and separated from their families so that they can continue to work and provide for their families.
2,169 Cases | 23 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
People in Thailand still go to work as usual, just with some increased precautions. Some companies are allowing their workers to work from home. Schools and universities, however, have all been ordered to close for 14 days starting this week. Stores are all still open as usual. There might be some shortages of certain products, but these products are all refilled very quickly, with the exception of face masks and alcohol, which have both been out of stock nationwide for a while now. People have voluntarily reduced their face to face interactions in order to practice social distancing, so there’s less social interaction with friends than before.
Every public entrance has a 3-step measure in place: (1) temperature check, (2) hand sanitizer pumped into your hand, and (3) mask check point. Additionally, some public places also ask visitors to practice silence, as well as a special standing position in the elevator, where people face the walls and not the front.
The government in Thailand has temporarily closed down pubs, massage parlors, sporting and entertainment venues, and events. The upcoming annual public holiday has also been canceled to minimize travel, and all passengers on inbound flights are currently being screened. – Ann from Thailand
241 Cases | 0 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Most schools (it varies among regions) are closed until April 5th. I initially had 2 weeks off for Lunar New Year, but this is already my 9th week off. As for work, I haven’t been able to make any money for the last 2 months. All businesses related to tourism are now suffering from unprecedented damage. A lot of tourist information centers in the Old Quarter are temporarily closed. Restaurants in this area are suffering from this virus outbreak too, as most of their customers are foreigners. People are told to refrain from attending any gatherings with more than 30 people. All bars, karaoke places, and some movie theaters are temporarily closed. People don’t shake hands anymore. I haven’t met any friends for the last 40 days.
Panic buying occurred a couple weeks ago and prices skyrocketed for a few days. But then everyone calmed down and realized that Vietnam is an agricultural country, so we will never run out of food. In general, it is quite easy for us to buy groceries. At most cafés and restaurants, there is a bottle of hand sanitizer at the door so customers can sanitize their hands before entering. People wear masks all the time. You will most likely get discriminated against if you don’t wear one in public.
Everyone who comes back from heavily infected countries is immediately quarantined for 14 days. If a Vietnamese person is infected, they will be treated for free. When China had about 1000 confirmed cases, our government immediately closed our borders with them which helped keep cases lower. Vietnam Airlines (our biggest airline) just announced yesterday that they will suspend all international flights starting from next week. – Dang from Hanoi, Vietnam
569 Cases | 6 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Our government has declared a state of emergency, so now all the bars are closed. The state of emergency is from 17th of March to 15th of April, and schools are also closed until then. In Kazakhstan’s two main cities, Nur-Sultan and Almaty, there is a quarantine in place. If you’re not a citizen of those two cities, you can’t enter or leave them. I own a restaurant in Kazakhstan, so I know that many people in the food industry are losing their jobs because owners don’t have money to pay then for time off.
Social interaction with friends is the same because people in Kazakhstan don’t really believe that this pandemic is very dangerous. Restaurants, cafes, and main stores are closed in the two main cities, but in other cities they are open with limited hours.
In my city Karagandy, our restaurant is allowed to work until 10 PM whereas before we were working until 12 AM. We also have to sanitize our working area every hour, and we cannot have more than 50 people at once. The cafes where there can be more than 50 people at one time are closed. – Aхмет from Karaganda, Kazakhstan
890 Cases | 4 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
We worked from home for the first 3 weeks of March, and then resumed working in the office after that. Social interaction is very minimal. I would meet the more “daring” friends once in two weeks, and I would meet the more “scared” friends as rare as once in 1-2 months
All non-perishables sold out for the first two weeks of March, since everyone was panicking and restocking their canned food and toiletries. It’s easier now since the cases have gone down (until today (3/20) when HK had the biggest jump) but expect everything to start selling out again with the second wave.
Almost everyone in HK are wearing a mask, those who aren’t are mostly tourists, everyone had their own hand sanitizer and every store provides hand sanitizer, most homes are sanitized with 1:99 bleach.
The HK government previously had mandatory 14 days quarantine for inbound travelers from Iran, most of Europe, Daegu and some parts of China. Now they have a mandatory 14 days home quarantine for travelers from all countries except for China, Macau and Taiwan. – Stella from Hong Kong
9 Cases | 0 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Because there was only one reported case (and recovered) back in January, Nepal was not in a panic. After the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Nepal closed its doors to new tourists on 3/10. If people already had a pre-arranged visa, they could enter the country but had to self-isolate for 14 days. Nepal announced a national lockdown on 3/20, and starting Tuesday morning March 24th, everything here has been closed.
I am travelling solo and I am at a guesthouse with about 20 people. Each day more guesthouses are closing and only a few are willing to accommodate the tourists here. We are served breakfast (included in our rate), and now the hostel has organized a communal dinner for everyone, because nothing is open in the area. Many of the tourists here have been in Nepal at least two weeks and no one appears to be sick, so they are socializing with each other.
There is one shop that’s open on the corner that sells a few essential items like soap, tissues, and some snacks, and I will go there once a day to pick up something, but it’s a quick get in and get out. The military is very present here, so they are making sure people stay in their homes. Long distance travel is banned, and starting 3/23, no buses are allowed on the roads. People who work in the shops are wearing latex gloves, and some areas have a sink and soap to wash your hands.
In Nepal before the government announced the lockdown at the last-minute (with less than a 24 hour warning) people were going about their daily lives. Things truly took a big turn after the lockdown, where the streets are basically bare. Tourists must get a permit to travel long distance in a vehicle, and embassies are working together to transport their citizens back to the capital of Kathmandu, so that everyone can be close to the airport for when flights open up. – Jennifer from Nepal
5,687 Cases | 35 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
I can’t speak for all of Australia, but at least here in Cairns, daily life is still going mostly as normal. Sadly, people are starting to lose jobs because of the lack of work. Since I work and live at a hostel, social interaction is pretty much impossible to avoid, but people are taking more precautions than before. Whenever possible, people are using more hand sanitizer, but it is has been sold out at stores for over a week now. We don’t have any issues with buying daily supplies yet, but some items, such as pasta, rice, noodles, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper are becoming hard to find.
Recently, the government cancelled all events that draw in more than 500 people and is currently deciding whether to limit all functions to under 100 people. Also, anyone flying in from a foreign country is required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Things are changing every day, and I know there will be more actions taken in the upcoming days, but it is hard to say right now exactly what those will be. – Kevin from Cairns, Australia
3/23 UPDATE: All bars, restaurants, churches, etc. are now closed across Australia. Some restaurants can remain open but only for take away. Most backpackers have lost their jobs now. Many Aussies are also losing jobs. Shopping is getting quite difficult as the shelves are mostly empty now. Many people that have been booking flights to get out are finding their flights cancelled and have to come back to the hostel.
3/24 UPDATE: International borders are closed to everyone except residents. State borders are beginning to close as well. Anyone crossing state borders will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.
4/1 UPDATE: No more than two people are allowed in public together at a time, with the exception of family members. Anyone who goes outside must have an essential reason to be outside, and police are stopping people to check that they are outside for an essential reason. Also, security guards are now stationed inside grocery stores to make sure everyone follows social distancing rules. You can read more here.
4/4 UPDATE: Visitors on work visas are now being asked to leave if they do not think they’ll be able to provide for themselves for the next 6 months amidst the economic downturn.
Daily life in Australia right now is fearful and anxious, largely because of the media. As the coronavirus started to spread to Australia, Aussies started to panic buy and hoard items they didn’t need. Today, it’s a challenge to find pasta, toilet paper, noodles, rice, spaghetti sauce, meat, and cleaning products in the supermarkets. There are still many people who aren’t anxious and afraid though, as they see this as being quite an overblown issue within Australia since cases are still so low compared to everywhere else.
I am a high school teacher, and schools are still open here. But as a Casual Relief Teacher, if schools close, I won’t have any employment. A number of kids are being kept home by their parents, but my classes are still about 75% full. As for businesses, some have chosen to close, and others are staggering their opening times. Bars and restaurants are all still open for the most part. Supermarkets are taking precautions by providing wipes for the shopping carts and opening their stores an hour early for the elderly and immunocompromised to shop before the masses come in. However, the items they need aren’t in stock 9 out of 10 times. Some businesses have already banned paper cup usage, required staff to wear gloves, and requiring gym personnel to wipe down the machines every hour.
The Australian government and the state government in Victoria are a laughing stock. Our PM has limited group activities to 500 people, but it’s hardly enforced. In fact, he attended the Hillsong event last weekend that was attended by thousands. As for the Victorian government, they declared a State of Emergency on March 16, 2020, which only made people more afraid. The government still hasn’t closed down any businesses or forced people to stay inside in any way.
I haven’t seen the government offer much financial help to people, other than offering some lump sums of $750 AUD to pensioners and welfare recipients. Many taxpayers feel stressed over work being lost and losing their businesses and homes. – Toni from Melbourne, Australia
3/17 UPDATE: The Australian government has urged people to return home, as they will likely close borders by Sunday.
3/19 UPDATE: The Australian government has closed borders to foreigners.
1,451 Cases | 44 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
The regular school semester just started on 3/2/20, but starting today there will be no classes for two weeks. As for work, some people who are able to do their work online have been allowed to work remotely. Regular appointments, like therapist appointments, are now being conducted via Skype. Since the weekend, social interactions with friends are mostly conducted via WhatsApp, Instagram, and other social media platforms. When we went out Friday (March 13th) night, the bars gave us Purell to sanitize our hands before we entered. While we thought about going out Saturday night as well, we started to realize that this was getting serious so we stayed home.
Stores are still open, but many shelves are already empty as people started to make panicked purchases over the weekend. I assume people are sanitizing at home because there’s no disinfectant left at any store. People are, of course, washing their hands, avoiding public spaces, and only going out when necessary, like to work, to the doctor, to buy food, and to walk their dogs. One problem that those with kids have run into is that many of them have been unable to find someone to watch their kids while they’re at work.
The government has taken some action to stop the spread, like closing schools for two weeks. Large public events, like Lollapalooza, have been postponed. The main amusement park in Argentina has also been closed. Other public places like bars, restaurants, shops, discos, etc. are still open (and up to the business owner’s discretion to close). Anything that can be done online has been moved online. For example, if you need to renew your driver’s license, you can now do it online instead of in person. If you need to go to city hall to get married, you still can. However, you can only bring two witnesses required by law and no additional guests. And finally, everyone flying into the country will have their temperature taken and required to self-quarantine for two weeks. Anyone who does not comply can be reported to the police and made to pay a fine. However, this rule only applies to plane travel and not to other modes of travel, like boat travel from Uruguay, so it doesn’t completely stop the virus from entering into the country and infecting its residents. – Julieta from Buenos Aires, Argentina
3/19 UPDATE: The government has ordered mandatory quarantine, which means you can only go out to buy food/supplies, visit the doctor, go to the ATM, and to work, for those who are unable to work from home, like doctors. Anyone who doesn’t comply with this measure can be punished with a fine or even with jail.
4,161 Cases | 27 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Daily life is totally limited here. Last week, the president shut down all schools, and the majority of companies have urged their employees to work from home. All large shopping centers have closed, but grocery stores and banks remain open. Unlike in the U.S., our grocery stores are still fully stocked, and there’s no shortage of toilet paper! The only thing that has been sold out for the last few weeks is hand sanitizer and antibacterial hand soap. Cleaning products such as Lysol and Clorox bleach have been running low but are constantly being restocked. More and more people are using Cornershop, a grocery delivery service app, that now you have to wait up to a full day to have your groceries delivered (as opposed to under an hour before COVID-19). For the most party, people are self quarantining and only leaving the house when absolutely necessary. Very few people are outside, and those who are usually are wearing masks and avoiding others. People here are in agreement that it’s best to remove your shoes before entering the home and immediately shower if possible, or at least scrub down exposed skin like the face, arms, and legs with soap and water and throw your outside clothes into the washing machine.
Yesterday (3/18), the president declared a state of catastrophe, which means that people’s constitutional rights can now be stripped from them if the result is for the best of the people as a whole (e.g. the right to gather, protest, etc.) We’ve seen a major decrease in the recent riots/protests, and there’s dramatically less air pollution here now due to less movement throughout the city. At the start of the week, the Chilean president met with leaders of surrounding countries and came up with a joint agreement to close their borders to non-nationals/residents. – Claire from Santiago, Chile
3/23 UPDATE: The government instilled a nationwide curfew starting March 22, 2020, during which people would not be allowed to go outside between 10:00pm and 5:00am. Restaurants, bars, cinemas, and malls have also been closed nationwide, and anyone entering the country must self-quarantine for 14 days. Police and military are monitoring the streets of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura to ensure compliance.
3/26 UPDATE: Santiago is officially in full lockdown for seven days. During this time, people must obtain a permit to leave their homes. Permits will be issued for medical reasons, accessing public services (including pension payments), and paying bills for basic services, and each permit has a time limit between 30 minutes and 24 hours.
1,406 Cases | 32 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
We are divided into three kinds of people in Colombia: (1) People who are panicking and believe the fake news reports that we have thousands of cases, when we only have around 50; (2) People like me who are aware of the situation and taking the necessary precautions to avoid being infected; and (3) People who don’t care about the situation at all and are still going outside without taking any precautions. Most people here are using hand sanitizer, sanitizing at home, wearing masks, and some are even closing their businesses. Many employees are working from home as well. However, at least for now, we still have full access to groceries, food, and transportation.
The government has enacted some steps to limit the spread of the virus. Since March 16, 2020, foreigners are no longer allowed into the country, and Colombian citizens who come back into the country are required to be in quarantine for 14 days. Schools, bars, nightclubs, game rooms, sporting venues, beaches, and islands are closed, and the Old City in Cartagena is closed for a portion of the day. Restaurants are still allowed to be open but can only be 20% full, and there must be at least one meter distance between each patron. Shopping centers and supermarkets can only let in 30% of its total vehicle capacity and 20% of its total pedestrian capacity. Commercial tourist activity in museums and chivas are prohibited, as well as the departure and arrival of commercial boats. And finally, no private parties with more than 50 people (including weddings) are allowed anywhere. – Maria from Cartagena, Colombia
1,746 Cases | 73 Deaths [Update April 5, 2020]
Daily life for people in Peru hasn’t really changed at all so far. Social interactions continue to occur as they always have, and people don’t really take any precautions for the coronavirus. Some people are using medical masks and hand sanitizer, but almost no one takes this seriously.
As for the government, they are making a huge effort to control the spread of the virus. The Peruvian government has cancelled school until March 31st and declared a state of emergency for 15 days starting last night (3/15/20). Drug stores, supermarkets, and banks are still open, but almost everything else is closed. Military and police are monitoring the streets. For tourists who are currently stranded in Cusco, many hotels and hostels are offering them cheaper accommodation and food during this period. So it’s mainly just the individual people who aren’t playing their part in Peru, and I think if we continue on this way, we will be the most affected country in the world. – Erick from Cusco, Peru
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