2020 comes to an end. COVID-19 has been the most life disruptive thing in ages on a world stage and it still is.
We are very good at being rational and pragmatic. You could describe us as sometimes lacking empathy and sometimes being cold. It’s true. But that helped us coping and adapting well to the current normal.
So since March and the First Lockdown in Belgium, Europe and the World, we have been on weekends and excursions when allowed and when possible. Mostly in Belgium and in the Netherlands. Timothy went to Switzerland.
We even toured Germany and Austria. We started telling that story and will continue telling that story in 2021.
It’s impractical to compare coronavirus countermeasures with each other as they evolved in time and differed from to country to country, from state to state, from region to region, from province to province, from canton to canton, from city to city.
Also, we didn’t take notes.
Now we come to the subject of this blogpost. They also differ from hotel to hotel, from museum to museum and from restaurant to restaurant.
Within the same jurisdiction, we saw hotels serving a close-to-normal breakfast buffet to having staff serving you at the buffet or providing table service. In the Netherlands in the summer food was put on a side table and we had to then take it.
Some were downright paranoid, others were too casual. Some were borderline hostile.
We should be sociologists and try to research how people react to the same instructions.
Obviously it’s understandable and it’s in principle okay to react differently to an unprecedented event such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparing it to the Spanish Flu of 1919-1921 or surviving ‘The War‘ is pointless as these were different times with different challenges and different expectations.
But while some countermeasures seemed to make actual sense, many others just seemed to work psychologically. As a ‘consumer’, as a ‘user’, these sometimes very different approaches were confusing.
Also people react very differently. When in Groningen, the crowds and people acting normal – whatever normal is – felt so strange.
In Germany Saxony and Bavaria seemed different worlds. But stereotypes about strict Germans were debunked. We saw as many people ‘cheating’ on the rules as in Belgium.
What to do?
While for instance the Mauritshuis in The Hague made a mess of it providing a fixed tour of the premissen, the Groninger Museum overreacted with little arrows on the floor. At some point in the museum, you even have to go from walking right to walking left!
The most absurd situation though was in Nuremburg at the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds. Apparently we entered through the exit but the attendant insisted we go back down, and enter through the entrance. Fair enough. But we ended up less than a meter away from were we were inside. And really, there was no-one other waiting. We could have just crossed a physical line without risking infecting no-one whatsoever.
So yes, some people can be paranoid.
The virus is still here, a vaccin isn’t yet. Let’s be more pragmatic in 2021. Let’s be wary but down to earth. Let’s not be paranoid but careful.