It’s day two in the Corona house and we find ourselves dealing with some of the practicalities of being in self-isolation. It appears there is no real guide, I checked Debrett’s without success so we’ve made it up as we’ve gone along. However, I’m very happy with that position as it appears to me that so is everyone else.
At least in the UK, the general tone seems to be shifting from containing a pandemic towards staging it to permit the most effective response. Depending on your personal take on the information being released that’s either eminently sensible or simple kicking the can down the road. In either event, it seems likely many of us will be self-isolating in the coming weeks, perhaps more than once. So what are these practicalities of which I speak?
The first question was when is isolation really isolation? Is it, for example, ok to drive between London and the acreage? As we can’t get local food delivery in London this week, is it ok for one of us to pop to the local shop or supermarket briefly if we take reasonable precautions? How do I manage walking Taz? As border collies go he’s very understanding, but I don’t think he’d relist self-isolation much. More importantly, how do I recover Taz from his stay in the country without breaching the integrity of the isolation?
The strict answer is we should stay at home, have no contact with others and stay indoors. However, how practical is that? Today would suggest it’s possible to significantly reduce interactions, but not dispense with them entirely. Two examples of the practical issues we may all be facing in the not too distant future.
We managed to arrange food to be delivered but at the Acreage, there were no home delivery slots to be had in London this week or most of the following week. So, having run down food stocks having thought we would be on holiday we had to pick some up from somewhere. Do we wander into our local supermarket so long as we feel well? That didn’t seem sensible or appropriate. It did mean picking up from the Acreage or asking a friend to deal with the delivery for us. In any event, we would be likely to have contact with either that friend or the delivery driver. We elected to be at the Acreage (driving in our car and not stopping en route) and collect the food quickly and from a distance. The driver was content to work that way and it was a pragmatic solution, but technically not total isolation.
As an aside, since the large supermarkets have stopped delivering in plastic bags, all the foodstuffs were in plastic crates which are handled by dozens of customers and staff without being washed and cleaned. The risk from those is, in my view, about the same as the trays in an airport security check and much higher than that we posed 2m away from the driver. The last thing we wanted to do was bring a new meaning to you shop we drop.
This linked to the second issue to resolve – disclose or not disclose, that is the question. We weren’t expected back at the Acreage but needed to be both to collect food and Taz. However, we could also expect a construction of builders to arrive during the morning to continue the ongoing work taking place. We could isolate ourselves within the house and have no contact with them until the food arrived when we could return to London. The question was do the builders have the right or expectation to know we’re technically isolating and had just returned from a Corona hotspot?
That’s probably something everyone will decide based on their own values and conscience. However, we decided they did have that right and may choose to stay away for the half-day we would be about (albeit they wouldn’t see us).
A quick exchange of messages with the office and everyone was up to date. The builders were able to make a decision and having done so turned up as planned, waving encouragement and shouting through the window interested in what had happened but otherwise unfussed.
I was slightly concerned that one had turned up wearing a face mask – then the stone saw came out and my suspicion of concern was replaced with a far more practical reason for it being worn.
A similar approach was taken with those looking after Taz. I can do without social interaction for fourteen days, but doing without my dog is a step I wouldn’t want to contemplate – however, I don’t want to put others at risk in collecting him.
In what can only be described as something more akin to a cold war prisoner exchange, I arrived and parked in the agreed location. There as promised was a carrier with lead, chewy sticks, blankets and a card offering good wishes. After putting that in the boot I opened the passenger door and sounded the horn. Around 30 seconds later Taz trots out of the house, jumps in the car, sits on the back seats and waits to be driven to his next destination.
All these interactions are cases in point. They can be managed and risk mitigated and reduced, however, total isolation is only possible when the infrastructure and support services are in place. In my view, that isn’t the case at present and as any pandemic evolves it’s unlikely they will be at any scale that would cope fully especially for those in most need. Food for thought indeed.
On a lighter note, two updates from Vaughan. The first relating to the madness that is evidenced by the panic buying taking place across the country at this time. Amazed by the buying of dunny paper (toilet paper for the English among us), he has produced a brief example of panic buying for dummies.
In a not entirely unrelated experiment, I am able to report on Operation Billy the bog-roll. Vaughan seemed to think that the use of toilet paper in the UK was excessive and abnormal. I have committed to updating on progress through said roll over the period in quarantine.
Those with an eye for detail and who saw the original depth of tread of half an inch will notice a small reduction in the intervening period, however, there is little risk of the next cab off the rank being deployed today or based on current consumption tomorrow as far as I can see.
Day two done – twelve more to go.