Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

220 days of plague

Back in June, I wrote the last in a series of posts about the overall situation, 100 days after the lockdown was imposed in March and as things were gradually lightening up. I was pretty optimistic that we'd seen the worst of the situation by then.

Well, things have not developed particularly well. After a couple of months when numbers stayed fairly low, and with a mild hump in early August which seemed to have mostly gone away by the end of the month, September saw a new rise of the number of cases, with a slowdown at the end of the month but then a further rise in October. 

We're now at the highest recorded level of actual cases; numbers in hospital and ICU, as of today, are the same as on 29/27 March respectively (on the way up) and 19 April/5 May (on the way down). There's some evidence of the rate of increase declining, but as MAD Magazine once put it, that doesn't mean "less", it means "less more".

So it wasn't a big surprise when we learned last Friday, seven days ago, that all restaurants, cafes and bars would close on Monday, and teleworking would become obligatory where possible. (As a family we clustered around the dinner table to watch the new prime minister's announcement on my iPhone; reminiscent of my father's story about the announcement of WW2 on the family radio.)

It was the end of a somewhat crappy week anyway. I stupidly left my iPad on the train on my way in to work on Monday morning; the "Find My" app on my phone showed that it had got to Maastricht in the Netherlands by lunchtime, so I guess I will never see it again. Tuesday morning was lost to the bureaucracy of filing the report. On Saturday I spotted a cheap fifth generation iPad Pro at the FNAC in in Louvain-la-Neuve, so drove to the concrete jungle 25 km south of here to grab it before someone else did. (It actually works much better than the old one did!)

But I'd had a good week of lunches at three favourite Brussels restaurants before they all closed — just to record them, La Deuxième Elément with a couple of work colleagues on Monday, La Brasserie du Quartier Léopold with a Balkan friend on Tuesday, and the Indian Spicy Grill with an EU official on Wednesday (when I already suspected that it might be a while before I was in the office again). All closed now, alas. I took a photo of my tartare on Tuesday just because I liked the presentation. Now the picture will be nostalgia for better days.

Italian steak tartare (with slivers of Parmesan)
Italian steak tartare (with slivers of Parmesan)

So, I've had another week of working from home, and frankly have not really got into the swing of it yet. Earlier in the year when the weather was good, it was fairly easy to break up work with exercise — that's getting more difficult now that winter is closing in and the weather is becoming changeable. I will adapt in the end, as people do; I am just recording that it's a tough start.

One thing that is less tough than in the spring: we have no new restrictions on seeing the girls. U can still come home for five days a fortnight (Wednesdays and alternate weekends) and we're still able to see B (indeed Anne saw her today). Their residential centre explained that they have much more protective gear than in the spring, so for now they are simply keeping up existing precautions. (But U will not be going to school for the time being.)

We are told that the new restrictions will remain in place for a month, and further curbs on sports and cultural gatherings were announced this morning. Personally, I'll be pleasantly surprised if we are out of it by Christmas. 

Hope to see you then.

Tags: covid-19, world: belgium
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