When I'm discussing the topic COVID with my loved ones (family and friends) this usually leads to heated debates. Mostly caused by the short term view of the others, and the long term view I try to bring across. I realise, nobody is at fault how these discussions turns out. In most of these discussions, I don't really address the short term, other than: "If I would be the one who decide on what measure we take, I would do it differently", and leave it like that.
Lead by someone I follow on LinkedIn, now it is about time to articulate what I think should be done on short term. A highlight I already posted as a comment to this guy's post on LinkedIn. Couldn't write all I wanted though; LinkedIn doesn't allow long form comments. Therefore I decided to write a HIVE post and will submit the link as another response to the aforementioned post.
Paragraphs in this Post
- Why do I want to bring across my Ideas?
- What we've learned last half a year in the Netherlands
- Current Measurements / Rules
- The Results
- Unlocking Measurements I propose
- The Challenge
- The Solution
- The Future Results
- The Positive Side Effect
Why do I want to bring across my Ideas?
Well, this is very simple. The guy I follow on LinkedIn, is a member of the team providing advise to our prime minister and his colleague minister with regards to COVID and state measures and rules. This team is called: OMT... Outbreak Management Team. The poster himself (Diederik Gommers is his name) is an IC specialist (doctor if you will) and is heading the national society for IC's and perosnel. In the past so many months, he's been in all sort of media, and seems to me an approachable, intelligent and rational guy.
This morning he posted on LinkedIn the question: "What do you think we shall do when we try and open up our society from the current lockdown we are in?". D*rn good question he asked! And SUPER he even bothers to ask this question. From the recent past, he showed he cares, and he showed his absolute willingness to listen to all opinions and even showed he can transform his own opinion into something else based on discussions he with whomever wants to discuss the topic of COVID with him.
This post will be for Diederik Gommers. And maybe this post will also help others in other countries to voice what could be done differently to what many countries in Europe are doing at the moment.
As you may know, almost all countries in Europe are in some form of lockdown, again. Everything is closed. Some countries have an evening clock. As united we were earlier this year, as divided we are today. The result? More and more people in our Dutch society are not following whatever rules anymore.
I believe the reason for the in-obedience of a growing group of people is the fact they are getting tired. Our government doesn't have a long term plan other than the vaccine. That seems to be the holy grail. But any sane person knows we can only hope we ever get a vaccine, and only hope such vaccine actually works without strong and/or long term negative side effects.
But we cannot and shall not run our countries based on hope. Thats a scenario bound to fail in my honest opinion. In the mean time our government seems to run from one lockdown into the next one. The aim is: We shall have a more or less normal Christmas. But what if we going to spend time with our loved ones, friends and family, while it's early winter time in my country? Miss COVID will not return? Sure, she will not have to return, she was never away, only a little sleepy, like she was last summer. But she will very likely wake up again! If we continue like this, we will be in the third lockdown in early 2021.
image: somewhere in Amsterdam
What we've learned last half a year in the Netherlands
- Most transmissions happens in our own home
- Only very few transmissions happened in restaurants
- Very low transmission levels when outdoors
- Increase in number of people feeling lonely
- Increase in number of people with depressions
- Increase in number of people not following rules
- Increase in number of people COVID is a hoax
Current Measurements / Rules
As mentioned, we are in a second lockdown at the time of writing. Our government calls this a half lockdown, but in effect its a lockdown.
- Maximum of two persons from other households in our own home, per day
- Visits to our loved ones in elderly homes are allowed
- Everything is closed, except shops, sport facilities and churches
- Office workers are encouraged to work from home, instead of in the office
- Flying is allowed but discouraged
- Public transport is allowed
Note: Most of these measures are in effect for the last three to four weeks.
Last week we saw positive results happening. It's not clear which measures are effective and how all would've played out when we would've (for instance) not closed the restaurants, museum's and cinema's. We also don't know if we would've seen positive stats earlier when we would've closed churches, sport facilities and shops. What we do know are these:
- Decrease in daily number of positive tested since a week ago (peak: 10k/day, now 5k/day and decreasing fast)
- Steep increase of number of infected in elderly homes
- Slight decrease in number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients
- Slight decrease in number of IC beds occupied by COVID patients
Note: Aim of our government is to bring everything back to what it was this Summer, with just a few beds in the hospitals occupied by COVID patients. The measures will last till mid-December in the hope we can achieve the goals and have some form of opening of our society to allow Christmas celebrations.
image: from within our Central Park of Amsterdam: Vondelpark
Unlocking Measurements I propose
The aim of the measures I promote is to limit the chance of transmission to the absolute minimum for coming autumn and winter, while we increase the social elements we all need so desperately to make and keep us feel happy.
We need to make sure we can live with COVID for coming years (maybe decades) without lockdown after lockdown while we all keep a high level of happiness. Therefore we need to change our habits, until we find some other solution, if such exists.
- Any meetings or gatherings shall be done outdoors and outdoors only
- No indoor meetings and gatherings; None of them
- Restaurants and other places of entertainment shall be opened: Again outdoor events, ie outdoor terraces, outdoor sports, outdoor cinemas, outdoor theater, outdoor concerts, outdoor bars, outdoor everything
- Office people continue to work from home
- Business and Team meetings: Outdoor only
- In the event something needs to happen indoors, the indoor location needs to be ventilated such that the virus has no chance
- A push from our government to regularly visit or do something together with our loved ones: Always outdoors only
In the end I think we need to strive for group immunity; Not through a vaccine, but through natural infection of the COVID virus. The herd immunity shall be managed through those who don't belong to the risk group. We need to make sure those who have a higher risk to become terribly ill or even die, are secured in one or the other way.
The Netherlands is not the warmest place in autumn and winter time. It's also not too cold though. We can experience frequent rain, some snow, some ice. Usually we get at most a few days of snow, maybe a week to maximum two, but rarely longer. Temperatures are kinda between 0 and -5 Celsius in the middle of the winter, maybe a little colder at times and in the night, but nothing dramatic. Rain. Well, thats what we gonna face for sure.
Blankets and Heaters! Yessss, you read it right: "Heaters". We shall not moan about energy consumption this autumn and winter. We shall focus a lot on the blankets and other warm clothing. I've been to colder places on our planet that are accustomed to having lunches, diners and drinks outdoors on terraces with blankets over our legs and around our shoulders. Why can't we do this in the Netherlands? Heaters can add to the warm clothing and blankets.
Tents! To protect us from the rain, we shall put up tents. Tents on our balconies. Tents in our gardens. Tents in our parks. Tents in front of restaurants, bars and shops. Tents at places we like to do something together with friends and family. In cities we want the cars to park somewhere else in order to give room for tents. Tents shall not be closed up completely; Maybe the sides shall not exists. Interesting effect of having tents everywhere, is that some of the companies that are suffering big time since March this year due to events (indoor and outdoor) being forbidden, will have a purpose and job again and therefore income. Win Win Win Win!
Encourage Social activities: We shall not only allow social activities, we shall encourage them! We shall live our lives with our loved ones as much as possible as we've done before miss COVID came to visit us. BUT, we do all these activities outdoors! As if it was summer! Now with warm jackets, blankets and when needed heaters. The results: More happy people and a running economy, many of the small businesses have an income again.
image: another one from within own Vondelpark
The Future Results
Hahahaha, that's a good one! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't have a crystal ball, hence I can't see into the future. But, I think we shall give the measures I propose a try. Everything is better than the next lockdown sometime in January or February 2021. And we also have an economy to take care of.
The Positive Side Effect
If we ever want to live in total freedom, we can't let it happen many of the small companies go belly up while the big corporates see their revenues and profits break record after record.
LETS ALL LIVE OUTDOORS for the FORESEEABLE FUTURE
all images by edje unless stated otherwise