Stories from the world’s longest lockdown

Argentina had the longest lockdown in the world, lasting from March to November. 255 days passed before the final sectors that remained quarantined moved to a social distancing stage. Let’s hear some of the stories from this never-ending isolation. 

Three individuals from Buenos Aires shared their experiences and thoughts during the mandatory lockdown. From daily routines to expectations for the upcoming months, you will get an insight into what it’s like to go through the longest lockdown in the world. 

What’s your name, age, occupation, and place of residence? 

Ana Luz, 19-years-old, Media and Entertainment Management student. I live in Lobos, Buenos Aires Province. 

Rosita, 80-years-old, retired teacher, and Italian student. A resident of Lobos, Buenos Aires Province. 

Hernán, 43-year-old, college professor, Buenos Aires City. 

Did you spend isolation on your own or with the company of others? 

Ana: I spent it with my parents and my sister. 

Rosa: At first, I lived alone. In June one of my nieces, a fellow teacher, began staying with me. It was more pleasant to share the isolation with someone else. We would go on walks, always respecting the mandatory protocols. 

Hernán: I spent the quarantine alongside my partner and my daughter. 

What were your early thoughts when the quarantine first started? Did you think it would end up being the longest lockdown in the world? 

Ana: I never considered it would last so long, let alone be the world’s longest lockdown. I thought it would end in June or July at most. 

Rosa: I didn’t know how much the lockdown would last. But now I live without fear and try to spend time with my daughter and her family. 

Hernán: At the time of the implementation of the social isolation measures I considered it very timely. I thought it would only last 45 to 60 days. 

Could you describe a usual day during the world’s longest lockdown? 

Ana: I wake up at 7:30 am, then I have breakfast and I take my online university classes. At noon I have lunch, followed by my English lessons. Then I have an afternoon snack before studying. At night I have dinner, study some more, and go to bed. 

Rosa: I would wake up around 7:00 am, have a shower, and then prepare breakfast. During the morning I run errands before making lunch. Past midday I start organising and cleaning the house before taking a brief nap. During the evening I watch a tv show. At night, I have dinner and go to sleep. 

Hernán: The day starts at 7:00 am, preparing a breakfast (something more elaborate than before quarantine), and then turning on the technological devices to start with work. A brief lunch follows, with the family involved in their multiple tasks (work, study, home leisure) until late. Screens predominate in-home, more than before the pandemic. And the days are all very similar to each other, there is no longer a difference between business days, holidays and weekends week.

When was the first time you left your house again?

Ana: I was able to get out of the house in April. This is because, where I live, the quarantine was a little more flexible. 

Rosa: At first I didn’t leave the house at all. After two months I started going out for groceries. Though some of them I still had them delivered. 

Hernán: I never stopped going out for groceries and other first-necessity goods. But for social matters, it took me longer, approximately three months. 

When did you realise it was abnormal to be in isolation for so long, compared to the experiences of other countries? It ended up being the longest lockdown in the world. 

Ana: In May. That’s when I realised this would take about a year or more. 

Hernán: I have my doubts about Argentina’s lockdown being irregular in relation to other nations. Comparisons are tough because they were partial lockdowns in other countries, with regions and cities that changed phases. I consider it inappropriate to form judgemental decisions regarding that matter. 

What was the hardest thing about the world’s longest lockdown for you? 

Ana: To study and take the classes at home, I’m still not used to it. I miss living in the city and going to the college’s campus. 

Rosa: Lots of people suffer from isolation and it makes them feel down. This badly affects the immune system. 

Hernán: Going back to sharing spaces with people that are not from my inner family circle ended up being the hardest thing about quarantine. I’m still having trouble easing into it. 

What would you salvage from spending so much time confined in your home? 

Ana: Getting to share more things with my family, I love spending time with them. 

Hernán: I can highlight that not having to commute allowed me to have more time available. Though this resulted in an upscale of my working hours compared to before the pandemic. Therefore, the quality and quantity of my free time got notably worse. 

Do you think it ended up being efficient to have everyone go through the world’s longest lockdown? 

Ana: For a while, yes, until May. From then I think mistakes were made both by the government and society as a whole. 

Rosa: Not really in the end. 

Hernán: I believe there were not many other alternatives than the lockdown,

especially thinking about the preexisting lack of knowledge about the virus and the difficulties that Latin American countries have in making a solid response against a pandemic (health systems, check-ups, controls in the movements of people, etc).

Lastly, Do you think the government is going to implement a lockdown again due to the Covid-19 virus before massive vaccination takes place? 

Ana: Totally. I believe in March of 2021 the mandatory confinement measures will come back. 

Rosa: It’s unpredictable to say if they are going to implement a quarantine again. It’s the government’s decision. But, after the calamity that came with Diego Maradona’s wake, I don’t think they’ll implement it. 

Hernán: A second wave of the virus, that would be related to the state of relaxation that I perceive in society right now, would inevitably lead to new restrictions. 

So there you have it. Three stories from the longest lockdown in the world. For now, Argentina has moved to a social distancing phase. Though, as the interviewed said, whether or not a new mandatory lockdown awaits is still unclear.

Sol Natalia Dieguez
Sol Natalia Dieguez

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