The current health situation has caused most people to re-evaluate their priorities, with countries and even the European Union closing its borders to outsiders in an effort to slow the spread of the dreaded coronavirus. Businesses are closed and social media is full of rumour and falsehoods, people are going overboard and preparing for the fear of being locked in their homes, whilst others are wandering around as if nothing has happened. As usual, and as was the case during Br*xit, the media seems to be a main source of stress and anxiety.
The closure of the Swiss border this week came as an inevitable step. Switzerland was more reticent about this step than other European countries, but they quickly came to the same conclusion as Germany and Austria, once these neighbours closed their doors. One decision which led to Germany closing its border to Switzerland was the massive increase of Swiss popping over the border to stock up on “essentials” at lower prices, and to the detriment of the German residents of border towns.
The range of people’s responses here in the Bernese Oberland is huge; from those who are extremely worried about the repercussions and threat, to those who think that this is all a storm in a teacup. Supermarkets have dedicated hours for older customers, and many older customers in the local Coop have taken to wearing latex gloves to protect themselves against what might be on the trolley handles.
We’ve heard of local Christian evangelists who think that the current situation is a plot to reduce their numbers; other people rattle the doors to the local pub and wonder why there’s no-one inside. Yet more wander around the supermarkets with their mind somewhere else completely; with no sense of personal space and oblivious to any kind of threat. These are the ones who get the widest berth from me. Others smile with acknowledgement when they recognise the politeness which was instilled in me at home and at school as a teenager, when I stop a good distance away to let them pass.
Jo and I are being sensible about the whole thing, and are simply distancing ourselves from everyone and ensure that we neither catch nor transmit the virus. There is no lock-down in Switzerland which is keeping us at home, and I can still work in my office in Spiez because my colleagues are remaining in home offices.
The coincidental recent purchase of a bike is allowing me to get around the local area under my own steam and away from public transport, so I’m enjoying the freedom to get plenty of exercise and enjoy the arrival of the first true spring weather of the year. (With a bit of luck, the extra exercise will help me to flatten my own curve a bit, too…)