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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: Restrictions tighten

The desk and staff of the community service center at an intersection. (Photo credit: Guo Jing)

The following post is the fourth in a series of diaries written by independent filmmaker and feminist scholar Ai Xiaoming and feminist activist Guo Jing. Both are living in Wuhan at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second and third part of the series.

This fourth installment was written between February 11-16, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

Guo Jing: February 11, 2020

今天是阴天,早上我本不打算出门,结果看到武汉市新冠状肺炎防控指挥部在半夜发布通知,决定在全市范围内所有住宅小区实行封闭管理。这下我必须出去了。我要确认这是不是真的已经开始落实,以及封闭管理究竟是怎么回事。
小区门口除了保安还有3个人,我出门的时候并没有人阻止我。我去了超市,蔬菜很多,肉基本被抢空,酸奶在半价卖。我到肉柜前的时候刚好称重的工作人员又称了几包肉放过来,我就买了3袋肉。一些零食也被卖光了,我买了一些牛肉干。
这可能是我最后一天出门,我想在外面多待会,就骑着车游荡。
我进小区的时候,他们对我说:“尽量少出门。”我担忧地说:“那买菜怎么办?”
“多买一些。”
“那吃完了也要出去买。”
“可以出”
“你们每天都在这里吗?”
“不会,保安会在,市里检查。”
面子工程总还是会有人力。封锁的不只是病毒,还有人。
回家后,我把3袋肉分成了14份,接下来的两周我都有肉吃。

It is a cloudy today. I did not plan to go out this morning. However, I saw a notice sent from Wuhan COVID-19 Prevention and Command Center last night and they decided to implement lockup management of all residential districts all across the city. I feel the need to go out to see whether this new measure has started, and what is the meaning of lockup management.

There were three people other than the security guard at the entrance of the residential district. No one stopped me when I went out. I went to the supermarket. There were a lot of vegetables, but most meat was sold out.  Yogurt was sold at a 50% discount. When I went to the meat counter, the staff put a few types of newly packed meat on the shelves and I bought three packs. Some snacks were sold out, too. I bought some beef jerky.

As I anticipated that this might be my last day to go out, I wanted to stay outside as long as possible. I rode my bicycle around the city. When I went back to my community, they told me, “It is better not to go outside so often.” I was worried and asked them, “How about buying food?”
“Buy more.”
“I still need to go out when I run out of food.”
“You can still go out.”
“Will you be here every day?”
“No. The security guard will be here every day. Today there is an inspection from the city government.”

They do not only lockup the virus, but also humans.
Back home, I separated the three packs of meat into 14 small packs. Then I will have some meat to eat every day during the following two weeks.

Guo Jing: February 12, 2020

风尘之后,有个女权伙伴问我是否了解风尘中的家暴问题,她担心地说“如果女人受到家暴,Jing茶还会不会出警?她能否获得支持?”
在封锁的城市里,一个女人遭受了家暴,一些认为这是家务事的Jing这个时候更加不愿意处理这样的案件。
受暴者此时也很难获得社会支持,社工机构也都没有上班。
她想离开家都是困难的,很难有人会收留她,没有交通也很难走远,酒店、旅舍也都没有营业。

After the lockdown, a colleague in our women’s rights working group asked me how much I know about domestic violence in a locked down city. She said with worry, “If a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence and reports it to the police, would policemen go to check it out? Would the victims receive the support they need?”

In a locked down city, when a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence, the policemen who usually consider domestic violence domestic would be more reluctant to check it out.
Furthermore, it is difficult for the victims to find social support, because all social service institutions are closed now. It is also difficult for the victim to leave her house, because it is not likely to find someone willing to accommodate her now. Since public transportation is currently shut down, she cannot go somewhere far, and most hotels are closed.

People lined up outside a supermarket. (Photo credit: Guo Jing)

Guo Jing: February 13, 2020

早上出门的时候,阳光刚刚透过云层照到地上。我出门的时候,保安没有拦下我,也没有问我,能自由地出门让我感到幸运。昨天有朋友问我现在缺什么,我没有任何思考,脱口而出说缺自由”
风尘后,城市的马路上没有了喧嚣,可以听到鸟叫声。有个老人家在一栋楼的侧面打太极,超市开始控制人进入,队伍是从离门口五六米的地方才开始排的,人与人之间隔着一米的距离。
有一个路口摆着桌子,是供社区工作人员用的,桌子上放着体温仪和洗手液,旁边有八九个人,有两个人坐在桌子后面。有个老人家跟两个人说着什么,其中一个戴着社区工作人员专属的红帽子。
过了一会,老人家离开了,我走过去问她怎么回事。她着急地说:“老伴要去医院看病、开药,但他不是肺炎,是脑溢血,要一个月去一次医院,哪晓得出了这个事,都熬了好几天啦。他也走不到医院,社区不给安排车。”
她老伴吃的药有处方药,很难买。前面站着五个穿制服的人,老人家又过去跟他们说自己的情况,穿制服的人说:“这个还是找社区。”老人家无奈地走了。

This morning when I went out, I saw sunshine penetrating through the clouds and touching the ground. When I walked out, the security guard did not stop me or ask me any questions. I felt lucky to go out freely. Yesterday a friend asked if I am lack anything right now. I lack freedom.

There has been less traffic noise since the city was locked down. I can hear the birds singing. I saw a senior citizen practicing Tai Chi on another side of the building. The supermarkets started to manage their customers: people have to queue up 5 to 6 meters away from the entrances, and people have to maintain 1 meter distance.

At a road intersection there was a desk for community workers. There were thermometers and sanitizers on the desk. I saw an old lady talking to two of them.

After a while, that old lady left. I went to her and asked her what happened. She told me, “My husband needs to go to the hospital to see the doctor and buy some medicine. He does not have pneumonia. He suffered from stroke, and he needs to go to the hospital once a month. Who could predict what happens now? We have been waiting for several days. He could not walk to the hospital, but the community refused to arrange a car for him.”

It is difficult to buy the medicine that her husband needs. She talked to the other five in uniform in front of us. They told her that she should ask the community workers. She left in disappointment.

Guo Jing: February 14, 2020

一个在湖北某县城的朋友说她所在的小区已经被限制出入好几天,社区通知昨天开始完全禁止出入,买菜都不行。
昨天早上,她家人赶快带着口罩和通行证出门买菜,很多人在菜市场抢菜,她家人去买土豆的时候前面一个人打算买完所有的土豆,她家人请求他留一些,她家人才买到一点土豆。下午,她家人想再出去买一些东西就出不了小区了。这如同武汉风尘时的套路,临时通报,没有告知居民生活如何得到保障。
Z_F在应对传染病的时候,除了控制病毒本身,还要将人们的恐惧考虑在内。可是恰恰相反,有的地方开始鼓励举报,举报一个新冠状病毒肺炎病人奖励1万元,病人自觉去医院也会奖励一些钱。
人们对Z_F的信任、人与人之间的信任不断地被消耗,恐慌却在被加强。这几天周围被管控得越来越严,超市限制进入的人数、周边被封起来的地方越来越多、更多的隔离区域。而很多人需要帮助的时候,社区工作人员、穿制服的人都成了无能者。我感到深深地绝望。

A friend in another city in Hubei Province told me she has been restricted to go out for several days. Yesterday, she received an announcement that no one in the community is allowed to go out, not even to buy food.
Yesterday morning, a member of her family put on a mask and hurried to buy some food with a pass. Many people were panic buying in the market. When she went to the potato corner, the person in front of her grabbed all the potatoes on the shelf and she had to beg the person to leave her some. In the afternoon, when members of her family tried to go out to buy more food, no one was allowed to leave anymore. This is exactly what happened when Wuhan was locked down — it was announced suddenly without informing the residents about how they could manage their lives.

When the government responds to a pandemic, in addition to containing the virus, it should also consider people's fear. However, on the contrary, some local governments encourage people to report suspects of COVID-19. One report would be awarded for RMB ten thousand (around US$1400 dollars). If a patient reports oneself, they would receive some cash too.
Our trust in the government and our trust in other people are consumed over time, but our fear is reinforced. In these days, control is getting more and more strict. The supermarkets restrict the number of customers inside. More and more districts have been locked up, and more and more quarantine centers have been set up. When people need help, the social workers and those in uniforms cannot do anything to help. I feel desperate.

Guo Jing: February 15, 2020

下午我发现我住的房子外侧漏雨,水渗进了里面…我跟房东说了房子漏水,房东让我跟物业讲一下。这也不是紧急的事情,现在物业肯定不会管。
下午下了雪,作为一个北方人这几年在南方很少见到雪,我想着可以顺便看看雪,就下了楼。我看到物业的门关着,以为没人,就去门卫室问一下物业的情况。到了小区的门口,我还没开口,保安就拦下我,说:“现在只有看病和上班可以出门,要去物业开出门证。”我担心地问:“那买菜怎么办?”
“买菜也可以,要开出入证才行。”
“什么时候不让出门的?”
“今天开始,市里发的通知。”
我问社区的人说:“买菜怎么开出入证吗?”
“三天出一次。”
“我刚好下了楼,这个口罩都用了,能不能让我出门买个菜?”
“不能因为这个出门”
我只得上了楼。

I found water seeping outside the wall of my apartment this afternoon, and the water infiltrated into my apartment…I told the landlord about it, and she asked me to tell the estate manager. This is not something pressing, so I do not think the manager would not bother fixing it.

It was snowing this afternoon. I grew up in northern China, but I have seldom seen snow since moving to southern China. I thought if I went downstairs, I could see the snow. When I went downstairs, I saw the door of the estate manager was closed, so I thought there was no one inside. I went to security guard to ask about the property management service. When I walked to the gate of our community, the security guard stopped me before I spoke. He told me, “You can only go out if you go to a hospital or go to work, and you need to ask the estate manager to give you a pass. I was worried, “How about buying food?”
“You can go out to buy food, if you have a pass.”
“When did the new rule that forbids us to go out start?”
“It started today. We received the announcement from the local government.”
I asked other people in this community, “How can we get a pass to buy food?”
“We can go out once every three days.”
“I already used this mask and walked downstairs, can you let me go out and buy some food?”
“You cannot go out.”
All I could do is go back to my apartment.

The fences separating communities. (Photo credit: Guo Jing)

Guo Jing: February 16, 2020

我对限制出门感到担忧,我再次有一种恐慌感,聊天的时候我有点像吃东西,好像也不是因为饿,但不知道什么时候会没吃的,吃了一个牛肉粒,也不敢多吃。
睡前我开始胡思乱想:如果物业不让出门,我可以从被暴风雨破坏的临时围栏的空隙中偷着跑出去。可是,我不知道如果我偷着跑出小区被发现会有什么惩罚,我担心我现在承受不起破坏规则的代价,尽管这个规则是不合理的。
因为昨天要求出小区被拒绝,我不知道今天能不能开到出门证。我抱着试一试的心态到了物业管理室,我说要出去买菜,工作人员给我开了个“居民临时通行证”,这个通行证看起来是批量生产的,上面写着住址和出入日期,出入日期最早是2月12日。
超市门口水果架上的水果比以往空了一些。蔬菜挺齐全的。有个放速冻食品的冰柜空了,酸奶的架子比较空,午餐肉、香肠这些都没了。今天的肉柜里有肉。
我今天的心情和第一天风尘有点像,再次为生存担忧。现在是三天外出一次,不知道明天会不会改成五天一次,甚至十天一次,一个月一次。我又买了5公斤大米、两袋面条和够我吃一星期的菜。
从风尘到封小区,我们的活动被控制得越来越紧,我们对世界的掌控感被一点点剥夺。
我下次出门的日期是2月19日。

I am worried about the new rules that forbid me to go out. I feel panic again. When I chatted with friends, I ate some food not because I was hungry but because I do not know when I will not have any food to eat again. I ate a piece of beef. I dare not eat too much.

I had some wild thoughts before I fell asleep: If the estate manager does not allow me to go out, I can sneak out from a broken fence. However, I am not sure what kind of punishment I would face if I sneak out. I am afraid that I could not bear the consequences of breaking the rule now, eventhough the rule is not reasonable.

Because I was rejected when I requested to go out yesterday, I did not know whether I could get a pass today. I gave it a try and went to the estate manager’s office. I told him that I wanted to buy some food, and the manager gave me a ‘temporary pass for residents’. My address and the dates that I can go out are written on the pass. The first date on it is February 12.

The fruits on the shelf outside the supermarket were less plentiful than usual. There was a lot of vegetables. The frozen fast food in one fridge was all sold out. There was less yogurt than usual. There were no spam or sausages. There was meat at the meat counter today.
What I felt today is similar to what I felt on the first day of the city lockdown. I am worried about survival again. Now we can go out once every three days. I do not know whether it will become once per five days, or once per ten days, or even once per month. I bought another 5kg pack of rice, two packs of noodles, and vegetables sufficient for one week.
From the city lockdown to the community lockup, restrictions on our activities have become stricter and stricter, and we are deprived of our power little by little.

The next time I can go out is February 19.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the Global Impact of COVID-19.

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