< The Good and Bad of Lockdown
By Anna Matteo
01 June 2020

Starting in early 2020, governments around the world ordered lockdowns, closures and other social distancing rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. The severity of the measures differed from place to place. But, most people around the world were affected by coronavirus restrictions.

Now, as the world starts to re-open in many places, people are sharing their experiences living under stay-at-home orders. Reuters spoke with people in Africa and the Middle East about the good and bad of being in lockdown.

In Kenya, 39-year-old businesswoman Mable Selina Etambo talked about the good side of the restrictions. She said when the lockdown ends, she will miss her time alone.

She explained that her culture is very social. She said the recent social separation made her realize that she needs time to sit alone, to reflect and to plan her life – "without people bothering" her.

A 29-year-old photographer, Adetona Omokanye, lives in Lagos, Nigeria. He said the lockdown has given him time "to breathe" and reexamine how he lives his life. Now, in his words, he is, "trying to focus more on the things that truly matter."

Alexander Caiafas also lives in Lagos. The 25-year-old said he has enjoyed spending time with family, studying and connecting with friends online.

A man surfs with his kitesurfing board in the Mediterranean sea in Ashkelon as restrictions following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ease around Israel May 11, 2020.
A man surfs with his kitesurfing board in the Mediterranean sea in Ashkelon as restrictions following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ease around Israel May 11, 2020.

A performer also praised some of the changes the restrictions brought. A dancer with Israel's Batsheva Dance Company told Reuters that she likes the time spent doing nothing.

Yael Ben Ezer said, "I will miss the comfortable feeling of ‘it's OK [to not] do anything.' "

"Things would come and go, the sun would rise and set, and I would just be living. And that's totally enough," she said of living under stay-at-home orders. However, the dancer did add there were things she missed, like the excitement of her public dance performances.

In the countryside of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, Zodidi Desewula feels markedly different about COVID-19 restrictions. She reported about the difficulties she faced.

"Myself and my husband were stuck in this single room house -- unable to go to work," she said. She added that they struggled to get food because they were not making money.

In the Egyptian capital Cairo, 20-year-old student Nada Maged described lockdown as "prison."

"When I look out, I see the same view but have a different feeling. The streets are more sad and mysterious ...," she said. She added that "there is no hope of getting out soon."

Cairo resident Zineb Mohamed misses her family. "I need to go to the zoo with my grandchildren. Also, I want to take them to the sea," the 59-year-old said. She added that she has dreamed about that many times.

A 28-year-old woman in Tyre, Lebanon has a sea view from her window. Lama Nadra looks at it every day. "I like the calm," she said, "and being away from the noise of the capital, Beirut."

For her, the end of lockdown also will mean seeing family less. She said that her brother will go back to Dubai and she will return to Beirut. And, Nadra will also be separated from her father and mother once lockdown is over.

However, an end to the lockdown means Nadra can go swimming again. She said, she looks forward to that.

For many though, the pandemic did not change much.

Abu Ghazi lives in a temporary cloth shelter on the edge of a burial place in northern Syria. Like millions of others, he has been displaced by nine years of civil war in the country.

He said he longs to return home.

"We quarantined ourselves with the dead," the 53-year-old told Reuters. "We wake up and sleep looking at graves."

I'm Anna Matteo.

What has been your experience in lockdown? Share the good and bad in the Comments Section.

Mike Collett-White reported this story for Reuters. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

reflect – v. to think seriously and carefully about

bothering – v. to annoy (someone) : to cause (someone) to feel annoyed

focus – v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific

comfortable – adj. allowing you to be relaxed : causing no worries, difficulty, or uncertainty

markedly – adv. very noticeable

quarantined – v. to keep (a person or animal) away from others to prevent a disease from spreading

grave – n. a hole in the ground for burying a dead body

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