Members 83. Yikes. Spikes.

Oh crap.

Covid 19 numbers have taken off here. I wrote last week about concerns over there being six cases reported in a day. In the last seven days, we have had ninety five.

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Members 82. 2020 Reboot

I’m back.

Our mini-vacation to Casale Panayiotis was fantastic. We did almost nothing, but chilled, talked, ate, and hung out in variations of bubbly water.

The story behind Casale Panayiotis is beguiling.

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Living the Dream. 87. Hobson’s Choice

As I write, Cyprus is, mostly, out of lockdown. In terms of day to day life, there are very few restrictions. However, restrictions remain for visitors coming here.

Countries are in one of the three categories. A, B and C (everyone else). A is countries where Covid-19 is deemed to be under control, and people may enter freely. B is countries where people must produce written evidence of a negative test, completed within 72 hours of boarding the flight. C, no flights.

The main tourist markets for Cyprus are the UK and Russia. UK is currently C, but will be B from August 1st. Russia is category C.

The great hope for tourism revenue was that from next month, legions of Brits would flood in and spend money, giving the economy a shot in the arm. Negotiations began with the larger tour operators.

Negotiations appear to have gone as follows:

Tour Operators (TO): About these tests…

Cyprus Government (CG): Yes?

TO: Do you need them?

CG: Of course, we have been very successful in suppressing the virus, and we don’t want to let up now.

TO: Thing is, tests are a bit of a pain.

CG: Hmmm..perhaps we can help. What’s the difficulty?

TO: Tests in UK are limited to those people showing symptoms, elective testing has to be done privately at a cost. 

CG: Well, we have been talking to the hotels here, about funding…

TO: Sorry to cut in – but it’s also difficult to get tests guaranteed within the 72 hours

CG: Perhaps we could find away to perform the tests on arrival…

TO: Sorry to cut in again. Look. Let us be direct. Spain doesn’t need a test. Greece doesn’t need a test.

CG: True, but…

TO: Will you drop the test?

CG: After a period of review, it is of course possible that…

TO: Will you drop the test NOW?

CG: As we explained, as things currently stand…

TO: We’re not coming. 

CG:

TO: Bye.

CG:

I am summarising, I daresay that many more words were used to arrive at the same impasse.

The Tour Operators have troubles of their own, and I imagine are desperate to rescue as much revenue as they can from a much curtailed season. If that revenue is from Spain or Cyprus matters little. Tests is one more headache. I guess I see where they are coming from.

The Cyprus Government position is horrible. The economy is haemorrhaging money and the tourist sector is crying out for help. On the other hand, Covid is no joke, and importing a second wave in the name of commerce will come across as cruel.

I’m sure that in the background, talks are taking place to find the quickest way to open the market and maintain virus-limiting measures.

In the meantime – residents are, for the first time in decades, reclaiming the beaches and tourist hot-spots.

Talking of which – I’m off to a mountain-spa.😁

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Members 79. Victim of its own success.

As I write, Cyprus, both the Republic and the occupied territories of the North, have no in-patients being treated for Covid-19. Some days, a new case is reported, usually from a repatriation flight.

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Members 77. Routines

To borrow from gender: (What could possibly go wrong with this analogy?) I present as an extrovert, but identify as an introvert. For months, I have been secure in the mountain hideaway, sallying forth weekly to the supermarket and pharmacy. Sure, I’ve had a lot to do, but my destiny has been in my own hands. I have been responsible for everything in my world, my authority absolute.

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Rules? For Fools.

As lockdown eases here in the Eastern-Med, I finally fell foul of the rules.

I have been sent to a large supermarket, ten minutes or so further away than our usual store. The reason? Pasta. The larger shop has better brands of pasta. One of the small prices that one pays for marrying an Italian, is that pasta quality is non-negotiable.

Aware of my reluctance to travel, shop or even interact with people, Mrs L said,

“Go early. It will be quiet, fast and easy.”

And it would be, if I were over 60.

“Come back at 10 am.”

As I trudged back to the car, muttering darkly, I noted that MacDonalds was open. Surely a Sausage and Egg McMuffin would slip right in to my healthy eating plan?

Tray in hand, I walked out onto the seating terrace. There are fourteen tables, three of which are occupied. I chose an empty table distant from the other guests, mindful of my social distancing obligations. As I sat, I noticed a sticker on the middle of the table.

Rules? For fools.

Whoops.

I moved to the next table, unstickered.

“Impressive compliance to the rules,” I thought, chewing on the textureless mush from our friend Ronald.

My attention turned to my co-breakfasters. All three groups were sitting at stickered tables. Social distancing was being observed, enforced by 100% non-compliance, at least until I had bumbled along with my British-rule-following stupidity.

This makes me smile. It’s archetypically Cypriot. The object of the regulation has been achieved, but at no point has anyone complied to any rules.

Driving is the same. You learn to anticipate.

“The stupidest possible thing for that car to do would be…oh. THAT. He did it.”

As you know it’s going to happen, you prepare for it, accept it and nobody crashes. The only way to maintain your clean sheet, is to lean into 100% non-compliance. The worse you drive, the more predictable you are and the more everyone will be taking the right evasive action.

This isn’t chaos theory, as it relies on constant, consistent, non-compliance.

It’s awesome.

Wait long enough and a business theorist will write a book on it and herald the new thing to make you 71.8% more productive by never, ever complying.

Right, I have to go, I can’t type and take this exit. Not without spilling my beer, anyway.

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Members 73. Covid Reset

Thirteen weeks ago today, Mags and I returned from Rome, just ahead of this thing, known as Covid 19.

She went to bed and has been there ever since, I added nursing to my daily task list and Covid 19 went from “some virus in China, and maybe Italy” to a pandemic.

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Members 70. Seventy

“If only I could spend all day, everyday working on the novel instead of nursing, firefighting the business issues etc. Lockdown is perfect! I could have produced several novels…”

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Living the Dream – 83. Lockdown

Cyprus has laid out a blueprint for exiting lockdown.

Is it right? Is it wrong? I don’t know.

However, I’m most interested in whether it’s relevant. At various dates, we will be allowed to start doing things that we haven’t done for months. Will we though?

For example, on May 21st, we will be allowed to get our hair cut, and to eat at a restaurant (only at its outdoor tables). Mrs L has unilaterally declared that she’ll be doing neither. I haven’t asked, but I’m guessing this means that I won’t be getting a haircut either.

Fear

People are scared. The virus persists and governments are quick to claim that the measures they implemented have contained the pandemic and saved many lives. They may be right, I don’t know. The numbers and statistics are an overwhelming avalanche of public relations. It will be many, many months until there is some perspective on the numbers and the efficacy of the various measures. How did country A achieve “x” while country B got “y”?

Change

If the virus persists, and lockdown and social distancing are the measures that contain the virus, then Mrs L has a point. Why go out?

I’m fascinated to see how our habits have changed. Will we all demand our hairdressers wear gowns, gloves and masks? Will restaurants with small isolated tables fare better than those that offer benches at communal tables? Is the Maitre D’s first duty to take your temperature as you approach the bar?

Concerts

Last year, we enjoyed UB40, Il Divo and Eros Ramazotti, gigs in Limassol. What about this summer?

Conferences

I attend trade shows in the stationery world, and conferences in financial services. Not this year, I guess.

Tourism

The Cyprus economy relies heavily on tourism and hospitality. The lockdown is severely damaging the economy. Both short term and long term, the challenge is going to be persuading people to be social again. I have read that experts in the airline industry expect flights to be very cheap this summer, as carriers like Ryanair and Whizz attempt to kickstart travel and take market-share. Perhaps, they’re right, but what about two years from now? I think that airline industry will bear no resemblance to the one of 2019.

In the meantime, can I get my hair back to 1990 length?

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Living the Dream – 81. A month in bed

Our personal lockdown has now been a full month.

On March 3rd, Mags went to bed, still in agony with a bad back. On the 4th, she couldn’t get up.

Since then she’s been to a couple of hospitals, had three rides in an ambulance and almost had an operation several times. The surgeons were resolved to operate on Friday the 13th until a possible throat infection intervened. With Covid 19 sweeping across the world, they discharged her on the 14th, no better than when she had gone in, a week before.

There was vague talk of an operation in a week, but we knew that was unlikely.

Discharged

Put starkly, Mags was safer bedridden at home with only me to care for her than she was in a private hospital with an excellent rota of medical professionals.

It seems odd in retrospect, but before we got Mags admitted, she was in bed, while our bathrooms were being refurbished. I made coffees for the patient and the builder. Once admitted, I spent the day at the hospital before coming home to sleep. Then, visitors were prohibited for Covid concerns and I had a day or two to bring some order to the house.

Progress

We were able to be more organised for Mag’s return, and set up our ward in the spare room. Here I monitor blood pressure, blood sugar and try to make her as comfortable as possible. On the 18th, her fifth day back home, she sat. Then, on the 19th, she walked a pace or two. On the 20th, she managed a lap of the house with a walker. The 26th, she took a shower!

Mags has to balance pain with movement. She wants to move more and more, but the pain roars back with rapidity and ferocity. She still cannot sit or stand for extended periods – but we’ll get there. Mags has spent a full month in bed.

Perspective

This private drama of a month in bed has overridden the worldwide one, for us. Were Covid not tearing across the planet, I’d still be effectively locked down. I guess I might shop more frequently, but Mags needs a hand around the clock, so not much would be different.

Mags believes that everything happens for a reason. Was that possible throat infection a sign? I don’t know.

From my side, I’m thankful that I stopped drinking this year. Old me would be draining a bottle of wine a night on top of a couple of cold beers in the afternoon, all the while claiming that the drink was getting me through the crisis. By now, I’d be on my knees, beaten down by a persistent hangover.

I might have an alcolohol free beer to celebrate.

Cheers!

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