At the start of the island’s circuit breaker (Singapore’s term for lockdown), I went on plenty of walks around our neighborhood. I caught many sunsets, discovered tucked away hidden gems in the Gardens by the Bay, and cross paths with monitor lizards.
Despite being surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, impressive skyline views, and nature. The city’s mood had become eerie and unsettling. As the days progressed deeper into the circuit breaker. The city fell into a deep slumber and silent. At times there wasn’t a soul in sight and I would find myself walking completely alone.
Having months of walking around alone and not having to fight my way through gobs of people, was uniquely different. But having a city all to myself at the cost of a global pandemic. Is a once in a lifetime moment that I hope will never happen again.
We are now in phase 2 of lifted restrictions and thank goodness! We are slowly proceeding forward but with a sense of caution and vigilance. We are getting back to a somewhat normalcy (it’s wonderful to see friends again), but there are still a few restrictions (we can only gather in groups of 5- at homes, out in restaurants, picnics, etc).
I’m very fortunate and grateful to live in an area, that’s regarded as one of the most beautiful spots on the island. The highly recognized 3-tower & iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel (yes the one with the infamous infinity pool on the rooftop) is in my ‘front yard’. Last year, the touristy juggernaut allured in 12.3 million tourists. A huge difference of what’s it has seen as of late, errr hasn’t seen.
The building we live in is part of the city central business district. We are surrounded by other skyrises such as residential, businesses, and hotels. When these businesses and hotels were no longer frequented. The tone of the area became quickly still.
In February, measurements of social distancing, masks, and temperature checks were implemented. The Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) also responded. They provide prevention and response plans to worldwide outbreaks. The level code at this time was increased from yellow to code orange. Code orange is the 2nd highest level, with code red being the highest.
In March more restrictions on border control were added. Eventually, it resulted in a full border closure. At this time, you could start to see traveling not happening at all for the foreseeable future. Work from home status started to increase. And large group activities (conferences, cultural, religious, entertainment, sports, etc) were all canceled.
It wasn’t until April, that Singapore declared it’s official announcement of the circuit breaker. Businesses, schools, shopping, restaurants, you name it, came to a full stop. Stay at home was echoed through the island and unless you worked at an economic essential service. Businesses were mandated to work from home.
Thankfully, during these months we could still go outside to exercise, but even that was different.
To manage my mental and physical health. I made efforts to take daily walks. We were instructed to stay in our neighborhood, keep our mask on when not exercising, and be constantly moving. It wasn’t allowed to gather in groups, no picnics in a park, or sitting down. Benches and sitting areas were taped off.
Alongside the police who patrolled areas, Safe Distancing Ambassadors were introduced to ensure social distancing, masks were being worn and people weren’t lollygagging about.
As the circuit breaker extended into its’ second month. Another update to the circuit breaker was announced. One of the updates were, when outside you’re to be solo. Whomp, whomp. No more walks with the hubby.
It was at this point. During my walks, I may have imagined tumbleweed miracuously blowing by with a kick of dust trailing in its path. And somehow the haunting soundtrack from The Good, the Bad and Ugly whistled with the tumbleweed apparition on the cities pavement.
With less people movement. Wildlife in Singapore was appearing more often. In the past few months, I’ve seen more monitor lizards in the area that I’ve ever seen in the first two years of being here. Our local news reported wild boars were spotted in neighborhoods and golf courses. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a wild boar in Singapore (fingers crossed).
What I learned and noticed during lockdown
During our lockdown we stayed at home and adjusted to the new temporary way of life. We definitely hunkered at home 99.% of the time and mainly went out to exercise.
I did visit a grocery store, which we were allowed to do. I went, maybe a total of 2 times. Which was interesting, because I didn’t encounter many people. Like the outside, the inside was a ghost town as well.
What was busy was the online grocery businesses. We learned very quickly to fill up our online grocery cart and throughout the day, to hit the checkout button and pray that we would win a delivery slot.
I also learned a new vocabulary word, flouting.
I never heard of the word until recently. Flouting: to openly disregard (a rule, law, or convention). The local news used the terminology to describe naughty behavior. When people were caught misbehaving by not wearing a mask, holding/attending group gatherings, etc. They were charged with flouting.
The flow of people traffic changed.
Even though there were few people out. People started to walk on the left side on pathways (which correlates to the side we drive on here). Which is a super bonus, because it’s nice to not have to ‘swim upstream’ as of late.
Now that more and more people are out and about. You still have a few groups/individuals that walk on the wrong side. I chalked it up to 1) they don’t live in the area 2) they’re bad at picking up on social cues & noticing that the majority of people around them are clearly walking in an orderly fashion. Get with the program, peeps 🙂
The last thing that I’ve learned, and (I can’t believe I’m disclosing this).
When the restrictions lifted and life slowly began to emerge. This was when I noticed that I forgot we live on an island where people speak multiple languages. I guess this is what happens when English is the only language I heard over the past 3 months.
I was in the lobby of our building and passed by a handful of people on my way out. It was then, I distinctly heard two different languages (other than English) being exchanged.
When borders open and it’s safe to travel again. I will take that as the final signal that public health safety is stable.
Stay happy, healthy and safe my friends.