I’m standing in the pissing rain on a cold October Sunday morning. The streets are empty. My socks are a little bit damp. I look across the road and see one fearless man braving the elements outside a coffee shop while squinting at the sports section of his soggy newspaper.
I let out a laugh at the absurdity of the scene. In normal times this town would be teeming. Buggies and turtlenecks in every window as the sound of espresso machines and morning conversation echo through the air.
It’s the silence of today that is most unsettling. I pause and try to make sense of things. ‘This is all part of the plan’, ‘these are necessary measures’, ‘better days are ahead’ are the kind of slogans that ring through my mind. I continue walking towards the market and glance in the window of the local newsagents. A headline stares back at me reading ‘Government considering level 4 restrictions to further suppress virus.’
I feel a rage start to build in my chest. For the past six months I had rationalised the loneliness, the cancellations, the economic stresses through a prism of cathartic sacrifice. That the efforts were part of a grand plan that would lead us to a better future. That if we stuck to the measures things would start to improve. But as we entered our first October with Covid-19 it was hard not to feel like Sisyphus pointlessly pushing up a hill only to roll back down again once we approached the peak.
Sparks of fury flashed through my mind as I contemplated the various hypocrisies of the measures:
Why can we open schools safely but not third level institutions?
What are we doing now while at level three to make sure we can go back to level two without cases skyrocketing as soon as we do?
Why are we in the South making all these sacrifices while we have an open border with the North, where cases now appear to be out of control?
The anger passes as quickly as it came. And is now replaced by a well of apathy. The hardest piece to come to terms with mentally is the absence of an end in sight. No one knows if there will be a vaccine. And even if one is approved tomorrow, we don’t know when it would be widely available. It is this uncertainty that makes life at level three so difficult to swallow.
I look back again at the man reading his soaking newspaper, ‘sure it could be worse’ he says with a wry smirk.