March 18th, 2020

mom walk

the fences are gone!

This evening as i was winding down my work day, i heard a clatter outside. I craned my neck out the window and, sure enough, the cops were collecting up the fencing they erected around my village back on February 1.

After work i went downstairs in shorts and flip-flops, ran out the front door and took a blind leap right out into the middle of the street. Fuck if i get run over, i'm free! After 7 weeks fenced in, i cannot tell you how good it feels to just be able to leave my house without doing a tiki tour through the village and lining up at the checkpoint like a prisoner.

The authorities still haven't reopened the alleyways between the handshake buildings and we still cannot go out through the back entrance, but this is an excellent start. Perhaps the restaurants that were trapped up against the fence will reopen now too. We can only hope.

I guess each village is lifting the lockdown at their own pace. In typical Chinese fashion, there was a government update the other day that enumerated all of the 24-hour checkpoints in the city: "700 communities, 4800 garden residences, 1800 urban villages..." It sounds like our checkpoint is probably still going to remain open, but more as a public service to allow the paranoid to get tested.

Folks, there are still a lot of paranoid people. I have colleagues who refuse to return to Shenzhen for fear of catching the virus even though for weeks we've only had a couple of active cases in the whole city. Of course, face masks are still mandatory everywhere, which doesn't do much to assuage people's fears. But now the government is panicking about the economic fallout so they are pushing hard to get people back to work. I think they are realizing that they over-egged the lockdown.

A report came out recently saying that 20% of Chinese households do not have enough savings to make it 2 months without income. 40% cannot make it 3 months. If people do not get back to work right the fuck now, it will be a disaster. (Well, more of a disaster.) The fact that the rest of the world is now shutting down makes things even worse, because so many people here are employed in the global supply chain.

So, even though on one hand the local propagandists are cackling with glee at how ineptly other countries are handling this, the looming threat of hundreds of millions being on their last fen (cent) has got to be giving Xi and his top brass the willies.

What better time to kick out a bunch of American reporters? God forbid anyone be allowed to report on what's really happening in the country.

But here's the news y'all care about. Lockdown for a month, no new cases, shit starts reopening. Two months later, close your eyes you can almost pretend it's normal out there. I don't know when mass gatherings will officially resume, but surely there isn't much excuse to keep them shut down now that the streets and markets are getting back to their usual (heavy) traffic.

Spring is here. Hang in.