• Gav Munro

Getting Back to Normal 460 miles from Wuhan

Things do get back to normal after the lockdown, we spoke to a Mancunian painter living and working 460 miles away from Wuhan in China about how he's adapting to the new normal over there.

'You noticed small differences from day to day here. We were locked down about a week after Wuhan with a little under 200 cases in the city to contend with. The first 2 weeks of February were a bit surreal for us, we were allowed out every 2 days to buy essentials and the rest of the time me and my wife were confined to our flat and garden.

Being a painter I pretty much work from home anyway so it was not such a big deal for us to comply to the community notices here. We watched daily as communal areas in our flats were sterilised with men in suits and we had our temperatures checked daily by the local security guards. The was a sense of ominous tranquility about it.

That lasted for 2 weeks and then we were encouraged to venture out and shop to get the locally economy going again. It was odd at first to be walking down the streets in masks being distantly stared at by passers by whilst whilst similarly watching strangers that came too close! That eased after a few days and soon you could make out the smiles beneath the masks and people returning to a sense of normality.

At first it was the local supermarket and fruit and veg shops that were opening, at the start of March other shops were opened in phases according to their trade. Barber shops, electrical stores and clothes shops all slowly and deliberately opened. At first you were not allowed to browse inside these non essential shops, only give your orders from tables placed outside the front entrances.

Through these weeks of opening phases for the local retailers we kept our eye on the neighbourhood infection rate, through an app that updated any local infections to either, new infection, recovered or died. Thankfully everyone in our area recovered and that gave us all a sense of confidence to get more and more back to normal. Public transport also returned to a semi normal rate, with limited seats and plexiglass dividers on the buses and subway. Everywhere you went you had your temperature checked and although this sounds Orwellian it did give me a sense of confidence knowing that I was OK and everyone around me was not showing symptoms, it wasn't perfect but in this kind of situation what is?

Schools were the last things to open here, there was very little known about asymptomatic transmission of the virus through kids so China was cautious, slowly opening schools from the end of April, 3 months after lockdown. So far that's proved a good move, the kids here are really up to date with checking their temperature and what symptoms to report to their parents should they feel ill.

There were casualities of the lockdown, the local pub was shut and went out of business together with a few restaurants but 99% of local businesses are adapting and slowly returning to 50-60% of their previous trade.

Which brings us to today, mid way through May, almost 4 months since we came out of lockdown here. I'm really wary of a second wave, a few major cities here have already gone back into lockdown after a few hundred cases have been detected. That's what we don't want here, ongoing lockdowns would be terrible for the local morale so we're all being careful and keeping our fingers crossed.

I'm back painting some portraits of family & friends on the frontline NHS and my wife is getting more and more orders for her mobile bakery.

I suppose like everywhere else in the world we're optimistic but taking things day to day.'


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