What does it feel like to leave your home after six weeks indoors? Week in China spoke to a Hubei resident in February about her time under quarantine (see WiC484). Now she talks about how she reacted to her release from weeks of domestic captivity.
When did you go out?
On March 15, a few days after the provincial government eased restrictions on Hubei cities other than Wuhan. It made the announcement on March 12 and our town lifted restrictions on the 14th.
What did it feel like to go outside again?
We tried to go out on the evening of the 14th but when we got to the gate of our community the volunteer guard said many people were out walking so it might be better to wait a bit. The next morning my mother and I went out again. We had to have our health QR codes scanned at the gate in order to exit. I was surprised how similar everything looked – though most shops and businesses were still shut. Only the supermarket was open and there was a long queue outside it. We tried to go to the park but it was shut. We were disappointed but I told myself to be patient and that the restrictions need to be lifted gradually in order to keep people safe.
When did life start getting back to normal?
A week later things started to normalise. The check points were slowly removed and we could leave our community without having to scan our health QR codes. Now the roads were quite busy and there were more people on the streets. Cafes and restaurants had reopened. Although it wasn’t possible to dine-in, people were lining up for takeaway.
Strangely, having hankered after a normal life for weeks, I found the sight of crowds slightly scary. I preferred to be in places where there was more space and fewer people. So instead of heading to the shops, my mother and I would walk by the river. It was also interesting that all the foods I had craved so much during isolation suddenly lost their appeal the moment I could actually buy them.
Was anything very different?
When the lockdown was announced it was still winter but when we were let out it was already spring. The trees had green shoots, the blossoms were out and the wind no longer had an icy edge to it. I felt we had survived a harsh winter and ushered in the spring, literally and symbolically.
What do you plan to do next?
During the lockdown my friends and I discussed what we would do when we could go outside: things like playing badminton, taking a drone to the countryside, and going hiking. But we still haven’t set a date. I feel that we got accustomed to life under lockdown and that it isn’t easy to go straight back to that fast life we were living before.
Also there is a sense of taking it slow out of respect; the country has been through so much to achieve the result we have today. We want to be patient and to take it slow and safe. This was so different to the beginning of the lockdown when we imagined how we were going rush out and go crazy as soon as the restrictions were lifted.
Can you return to Beijing now?
In theory yes, there are special buses and trains for people returning from Hubei. But there has also been discrimination against Hubei people. My company in Beijing calls every day to check where I am and encourages me to stay in Hubei.
Also if I went back to Beijing right now I would still have to do two weeks of quarantine, either at a government facility or in my apartment. And I am not ready to be locked inside again.
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