Yes, we are still here! I haven’t written much because nothing new is going on. We are still home under the same strict quarantine rules. Women are allowed out on M-W-F during their designated limited hours, and men on Tu-Th. The men lost their Saturdays because more men are being arrested for breaking quarantine, and more men are becoming infected.
There are a few glimmers of change on the horizon. Tomorrow they are supposed to bring out the three phase plan for reopening the country. The first phase will be hardware stores, car repair shops, and other such businesses with social distancing / infection control measures. They want to give everyone the heads up so the businesses can start preparing, but no date has been set for anything to actually happen. But, they want to get people back to work as soon as possible without jeopardizing safety.
The last phase opens tourism and non-essential air travel. I have a feeling it’s still going to be a long time before I can visit my family, or you all out there can visit here. It looks like it’s going to be a long time before schools are open also. Some families are home schooling but many don’t have the technology to keep in touch with schools so not a lot is happening. I saw a radio station advertising hours for different class levels to help kids keep learning. It’s going to be quite a challenge though to get classes going again and figure out where all the kids are in their various stages of learning.
But, I appreciate that the country is being very cautious, watching the numbers, and proceeding slowly. Of course this is a huge problem for the economy and the government is trying to support those affected (which is never enough, of course) but they are prioritizing health and life above economy.
Other news is the lifting of the dry law. When a state of emergency was declared weeks ago, a dry law (no alcohol sales) went into effect as part of that. It is said that the dry law will decrease the incidence of bad behavior and thus the burden on the police, decrease domestic violence, and save money for essentials like food for the family.
But, Thursday night it was lifted, but NOT in Boquete and some other towns where the mayor said no. (No you can’t bring it in either because you’ll be busted at the checkpoints) There was such an uproar that the Boquete mayor backed down, but not until Friday evening and by then, we were all on weekend quarantine and nobody could go anywhere until Monday.
Don’t break quarantine, because if you get arrested you’ll be put to work – community service aka cleaning up the city.
But, overall we seem to be doing well. There are new cases every day but the number seems to be holding steady, and so is the number of people in the hospital. Hospitals haven’t been stretched beyond their capacity, and there is more news every day of people who have recovered and were sent back to home from either the hospital, or the hotel (where they stay if they aren’t sick enough for the hospital). Here in Chiriqui province the news is ever better. There are many days without new cases or anyone in the hospital, and there have been no deaths since the few that happened at the beginning of the pandemic.
Of course I haven’t been anywhere or talked to many people, but the feeling I get is that the Panamanian people are cooperating with the requirements. There have been some demonstrations by people who need food for their families when government help didn’t come quickly enough, but people wear their masks, wait patiently in lines, and look out for their friends and neighbors even more than ever. I haven’t heard complaints about losing rights and freedoms.
So, this continues to be life here at the moment. It’s very quiet and peaceful. At night all you hear are the bugs and birds, and daytime is quiet too. We are contented at home but still worry about those who are out there working, or who are struggling to get by.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! We’re all going through crazy times all over the world, so I hope you all are safe and have everything you need. Take care of yourselves and each other.