The unfamiliar social scenario of a pandemic

by Mar 19, 2020News0 comments

Long queues for grocery shopping have been happening everywhere, and are bound to stay like this for a long time (photo taken in Lisbon, March 18 2020)

Long queues for grocery shopping have been happening everywhere, and are bound to stay like this for a long time (photo taken in Lisbon, March 18 2020)

Hey, everyone, Breno here.

I’m hoping to find you all safe and sound.

This is a very quick post. We usually take everything for granted, even the smallest things such as having running water, electricity, garbage disposal, right?

As a foreigner in Portugal, I was a bit stunned with what it means a state of emergency, such as the one called here yesterday. It’s my first time, I had never lived this before — as so many people everywhere.

Lisbon feels strangely empty: when I went out for grocery shopping, streets were silent, people wore even more masks than a couple days before and the long queues for the markets were the only thing I could always expect to find.

Around here, restaurants that are still functioning are mostly relying on delivery. Shops are all closed. I got some reports of trash not having been taken during the past two days in other areas of the city. Just this morning, I skyped friends in Madrid and Florence who work in cafés, restaurants and even in marketing companies who are being furloughed or laid off. The same seems to be happening here in Lisbon.

Deserted streets in Lisbon, March 18, 2020

Deserted streets in Lisbon, March 18, 2020

The building where I’m staying, which is usually quite crowded with foreigners, feels rather empty now. Basically, because a good amount of its apartments are Airbnb-licensed. With tourism virtually zeroed, so is the demand for them.

But not only. Day after I day, I check my email account only to receive notifications that apartments which were being rented for €900 are dropping to €700. With so many furloughs and layoffs, one can’t stop thinking about how the real economy is going to change.

These are unprecedented times, and it’s inspiring to see communities rising up to the challenge as they can. Think of the millions of people living paycheck-to-paycheck, anxious for the future of the company they are working for.

In Spain, for instance, I have news of businesses closing indefinitely. Hourly workers are the hardest hit, even more those depending on tips — already 300.000 people working in fast foods are in layoff. As much as 25 million people can eventually lose their jobs to the pandemic, the International Labour Organization announced yesterday.

Some very bad news incoming, indeed.Some very bad news incoming, indeed.

Some very bad news incoming, indeed.

***

We take for granted small things on which we heavily depend, and times like these just show more and more clearly how everything is so interconnected: from public transportation servicepeople, to cleaners, to garbage people, to restaurant workers, to drivers, to couriers, to delivery people, to outsourced customer representatives, and whew!, so many more.

So many jobs being exposed to the pandemic. So many people on the verge of not knowing about tomorrow.

***

The covid-19 pandemic is likely to change our very way of socializing for quite a while, given how long we might need to practice social distancing. It will be tough, we know, but let’s stay focused on the nice small things in life.

My wine portfolio at Alti Wine Exchange did not crash, bids and offers are still good and normal. I would normally feel like celebrating with a bottle of wine from my portfolio, but then again — I cannot drink it and make money at the same time.

Anyway, you are all probably much aware, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you the WHO guidelines to stay safe from the coronavirus. Until then!

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