*I wrote this a few days ago and didn’t publish it because the decision to stay or go home was constantly being discussed. Now that the decision is made and we are holed up in Vienna for an uncertain amount of time, I want to make this post a part of the story so I don’t forget.
Looking back, this was not on the list of stories we expected to write about this trip. However here we are- and the quarantine isn’t so bad (yet).
We understand that there are still only 7 cases in the country but Slovakia is taking this crisis seriously and we appreciate that!
If you are curious why all of the following measures have been put into place, here is a good article to read. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-cancel-everything/607675/
Here is a list of the measures:
1. All public institutions are closed, students at all levels are staying at home and each institution has clear instruction for employees, public and cooperating institutions. We don’t know for how long… John is communicating with students online for now.
2. Public libraries, the zoo, museums, cinemas, theaters, swimming pools and other public venues are all closed we understand that the big soccer game between Slovakia and Ireland will be played with no fans. That game had sold out within 2 hours because we tried to get tickets.
3. My half marathon is moved to September. 😞 All public gatherings are banned.
4. We are asked to not leave Slovakia and “keep social life on low profile.”
5. There are checks at the borders and anyone returning from Italy, China, Iran and South Korea need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
6. We have been asked to stay off public transit even though they are pulling out the big cleaning guns.
7. The conference of bishops have canceled all worship services for all of Slovakia until March 23rd at the earliest.
8. All kids activities are canceled- no practices or competitions of any kind are allowed until further notice.
9. There is a ban on all visitation to hospitals or residential care facilities.
10. If a waste collection employee has worked in an area where covid-19 has been diagnosed, they will undergo a medical examination before being allowed to return to work.
11. Every person with a Slovak phone number received a text with prevention information.
12. They have repurposed 7,700 beds ready for patients and have a plan for an isolated site for 2,500 covid-19 patients if needed.
We believe that this is the safest place for our family right now. In fact, we wish similar restrictions were happening at home in the US.
In light of the circumstances, we are in good spirits. There is plenty of food and toilet paper in the grocery stores and we have been cooking a lot.
Since we arrived in Europe, our family has fallen in love with “Milka” chocolate. I bought a bunch of types that we haven’t tried yet and had a blindfolded “Milka tasting” event (mimicking the wine tasting we didn’t know we were going to…)
We play a lot of cards and need some new games. And everyone is reading. There is a lot to be thankful for in an uncertain time.
We are taking walks each day and the weather has been cooperative.
While life feels so strange, the difficult/funny foreign life details do continue. Here is just one story….
We received a notice in our mailbox that we couldn’t quite decipher but knew we had something waiting for us at the post office. Since I had a work phone call, John took the kids on an outing to the post office. There was excitement that maybe there was a package waiting? The first post office had an employee who spoke English but said that we needed to go to another counter. The next employee did not speak English but made it clear we were at the wrong post office. Since the right post office wasn’t far away and the weather was nice, they walked there. After more confusion, the “package” was given to John. It was a letter with two sentences saying that we needed to call the Slovak equivalent of UPS. We called twice. No answer. 😆 John called the next day and a nice person answered and said he would call and then stop over the next day with the package. That call or visit never happened.
Alas, we are taking life one day at a time. We appreciate the swift precautious measures that the Slovak government has taken. Seemingly, it is a great balance of safety, care of the people as a whole and a general lack of panic. And so far it seems to be working!
We miss our family and friends back home but again, we feel safe here.