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Corona and us

The virus changes our lives: the editor Sarah Kanning writes about her new everyday life.

Sarah Kanning, 19.03.2020
Home office with child (symbolic image).
Home office with child (symbolic image). © picture alliance/KEYSTONE

The Corona virus has also turned the editorial office of upside down. Read here about what our everyday life – and that of millions of other people – now looks like.

So now us too. I had hoped up to the very last that this would somehow pass Germany by, this turning of life inside out by the new corona virus. But every day brought a new, usually depressing announcement: first all events with more than 1,000 participants were cancelled, then all with more than 100. Finally, all events. Schools and day-care centres have been closed since 16 March, and most shops since 17 March.

Even our son, just one and a half years old, will have to stay at home until mid-April: five weeks without playgrounds (closed), zoo (closed), friends (forbidden), grandma and grandpa (to be avoided). My parents are sad they can’t give us a hand, although we are all working from home office on our computers and laptops and could urgently use some help. Few colleagues are still working at the office, less than a handful. My parents use messaging services to confirm that they are feeling fit and healthy, that we shouldn’t be afraid and that they would be happy if we visited them. They are frightfully bored.

What if we infect our parents?

But could we ever forgive ourselves if we were actually to infect them? The bad news is getting uncomfortably close. The grip in our guts accompanies us everywhere, even though spring is breaking out in all its glory and our son is behaving as if we were on holidays. We plant flowers and pretend that our living room is a mini disco. We cook together and play at sock sorting - a tip from one of the many "What to do about cabin fever" forums on the net. Somehow we have to keep our little boy happy, work on the side, and block out the thought that this is just the beginning.

The pace of life has slowed down

Life isn’t standing still, at least not yet. We went shopping again at the weekend - and were surprised by how many people were out and about. Not only in the supermarket, but also in the electronics and the hardware shops. It seems that, like us, other people wanted hastily to stock up on necessary tools so as to make some sensible use of the next few weeks. When you can do hardly anything else than stay in the flat, work in the garden, watch Netflix.

The pace of life is slower; all appointments, all dates have been cancelled; we stay as much as possible at home. I've seldom had my cell phone in the hand so often. Social media have never been more valuable to me. I want to know how my friends are doing, what’s happening in the world.

We have many questions and few answers: How long does the corona virus survive on supermarket Tetrapaks, and can you be infected by contact? Who had my package in the hand, who maybe coughed on it? We have too much time to brood.

In spite of everything, we’re lucky

We have to see it positively. We’re lucky. We’re all healthy so far and have enough space; we have a garden and the fields start behind the garden. In times like these, that is rather different from a flat in the city centre which can be reached only by lift. Still, we’ll have to be creative in the coming weeks to prevent going stir-crazy. The German television programme has already adapted and broadcasts "Mouse TV" every day for the kids, and there are learning programmes for older children. I’ve devised my own schedule: I want to unpack a moving box every day; too many of them have been standing about since we moved in December. By the time they are all empty, I hope the worst is over.