Lockdown in Beijing – The before, during and after, by Jamie Yeung

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It’s amazing how things change in a blink of an eye. Back when I first read about the virus in December, I remember I felt a sense of relief that Wuhan was so far from Beijing. I even sat around dinner with some friends laughing at how I wouldn’t be going to any city in Hubei anytime soon. Fast forward a month and it was finally the long awaited Chinese New Year break. My partner, Richard and I packed our suitcases and travelled to the airport for our holiday to Seoul, Korea. It wasn’t until a few days in, when suddenly the severity of this virus reached new levels. Covid-19 was the name officially given to what then appeared to be a ‘deadly’ virus. My emotions were very conflicted at this point. On one hand I was excited to be in a country I had always wanted to visit and also relieved that, at that moment in time, I was away from China. On the other hand, I was scared and anxious. People in Seoul were wearing masks, albeit not everyone was and many still seemed unphased by the news. It was noticeable that the situation was getting serious. Hand sanitizers and face masks were running low if not out of stock.

Initially, our trip to Seoul was for a week, however, towards the end of our stay we grew increasingly skeptical and anxious about returning to Beijing. That and simply, we were not ready to leave Seoul.

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In the end, we went ahead and extended our stay, in fact, not just once, but twice. However, we could not stay in Seoul forever, and frankly, we were worried that the longer we prolonged the inevitable, the harder it would actually be to return to Beijing. Friends had been mentioning how their flights to Beijing were getting cancelled. Fortunately for us, there were still plenty of flights out of Seoul arriving in Beijing. Nearing the end of the holiday, the shops in Seoul began to stock up on face masks and hand sanitizers, just in time for us to head back to Beijing. We gathered a hefty supply, well, as much as our suitcases could carry of masks and hand sanitizers, we were ready. With our face masks on, we headed to the airport, boarded the plane and before we knew it, landed in Beijing.

Our friend picked us up from the airport, it was then when it truly hit me, how quiet the roads of Beijing were. Beijing, the capital city of China, with barely any movement or cars around. We arrived at our apartment complex, greeted by security guards who required all residents to register, providing our identification and details of where we had travelled from.

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Thus, began my two week self-isolation in the apartments, whilst Beijing was in lockdown. I was lucky to have returned when I did. I was still able to leave the complex to do my necessary shopping for groceries, and collect take away deliveries. All that was required when leaving the apartment was a mask to be worn at all times, fever check upon entering the complex and a pass to prove I was a resident at the complex. Other than shopping for necessities, I stayed safe and sound in my apartment. Personally, lockdown was not so bad. I enjoyed recuperating after a long holiday, cooking food and doing puzzles. After all, how often do you truly have an excuse to do absolutely nothing?

Of course, I missed my friends and most certainly missed exploring, the beautiful, Beijing but I am happy to be safe. As well, It was not long before online teaching began. Soon, I got into a routine and life began to seem somewhat normal again. Gradually, shops were beginning to open, and streets got busier with time. Time again flew by…

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Fast forward to April; Spring has sprung, the old and the young are out, children are playing in parks (with masks on of course) and people are back to work. The number of new infected cases are next to none and Beijing feels like Beijing again. Having patience is key to staying positive. Thus far, this experience has shown that it truly gets better with time.
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