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COVID-19 diaries from Wuhan: ‘You can go outside for two hours’

People on the riverbank. (Photo credit: Guo Jing. Used with permission.)

The following post is the fifteenth 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 initial center of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh, twelfththirteenth, and fourteenth parts of the series.

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

This installment was written between March 28 and March 31, 2020. The original Chinese diaries are published on Matter News.

Guo Jing: March 28, 2020

武汉的地铁在停运了两个多月后,今天重新开始运营了。我的小区对面就是地铁口,不过少有人出入。
我和大家一样都在期盼着出小区。下午,我买的大麦茶到了。取快递的时候,我问了一下保安什么时候可以出去,他让我问网格员。他给我指了指小区墙上的公示牌,有一个上面有网格员的电话。
我打电话给网格员,她说,无疫情社区的居民每天可以凭绿码(健康码)去超市买东西,一次出门的时间为两个小时。可是,现在有很多超市依然不对个人开放。
我们社区是无疫情社区,离我们最近的对个人开放的超市所在的社区不是无疫情社区。而且,现在超市严格控制进入的人数,一次只能进5个人,要排很久的队。所以,网格员建议现在还是不要出小区。
我今天终于厌烦了胡萝卜。可惜我家里还有几根胡萝卜,我还是得把它们吃完。不过,胡萝卜正式成为第一种我未来一段时间不想再吃的食物。

After a two-month suspension of service, the subway in Wuhan began operating again today. There is a subway entrance right in front of my community, but very few people go in and out.
Like many others, I want to get out of our residential district. When the barley tea that I ordered was delivered to my community this afternoon, I went to pick it up and asked the security guy when we can leave. He said that I should ask the grid controller and pointed to a telephone number pinned on the bulletin board.
I called the grid controller. She told me that residents with a “green” health code in communities without recently confirmed case can go shopping in supermarkets for two hours. However, many supermarkets are not open to individual customers.

Our community has no recent confirmed cases, but the closest supermarket is located in a district with confirmed cases. In addition, there is always a long line outside the supermarkets as they only allow a maximum of five people to shop inside. Therefore, the grid controller suggested that I avoid leaving our district for the moment.
I am so tired of carrots, but I still need to finish the last few carrots stored at home. Carrot is officially on my list of least desirable foods for the near future.

Guo Jing: March 29, 2020

最近几天我多次被问到:“武汉封城后,人与人之间的关系有什么样的变化?”我没有一个简单绝对的答案。封城后,人们自觉地和他人保持一定的距离,很多人不再出门,但也有人带着恐惧和担忧做志愿者,为需要的人送物资。一些在外的湖北人被拒绝住酒店,但也有人主动为湖北人提供住处。有的城市拒绝复工的湖北人进入,但也有城市欢迎复工的湖北人。
中午,有住户艾特物业主任,“请问,现在可以出小区,去超市买东西吗?”
物业主任回答说:“你如果有健康码和复工证明就可以出小区。”
有人问:“请问现在住汉口,可以回小区吗?”
物业主任说:“只要有健康码,可以。”
两个住户都表示感谢。

I have been asked several times recently, “How did social relationships change after the lockdown of Wuhan?” I do not have a simple answer. After the lockdown, we consciously keep social distance. Many people do not leave their home anymore. However, some have overcome their fear and anxiety and worked as volunteers to deliver supplies to people in need. Some from Hubei Province (the province where Wuhan is the administrative capital) are rejected by hotels outside of Hubei. However, some reach out to offer help. Some cities ban people from Hubei entering and returning to work. Other cities welcome them.
Today around noon, a resident sent a message to the estate manager, “Can we go outside and shop in supermarkets?”
The manager said, “If you have the (green) health code and certificate to return to work, you can go outside.”
Another person asked, “I am staying in Hankou (another part of Wuhan city) now. Can I go back to the community?”
The manager said, “If you have the (green) health code, you can come back.”
They thanked the manager.

Guo Jing: March 30, 2020

这场疫情会对我有什么样的影响?我现在也无法说清楚。这场灾难会在我们很多人身上都留下不可磨灭的痕迹。
我们会走在某条路上的时候想起它2020年的样子,我们会在吃到某种菜的时候记起封城这段时间天天吃它的无奈,我们会偶尔梦到此时的人和事。
我对武汉这座城市依然不会有特殊的感情,但我会记得在这个地方经历了一场封锁,也无法忘记这段时间空荡荡的街道。
这几天武汉的外卖订单在增加。3月26日,奶茶订单3天增长近8倍。人们承受了太多的苦,一杯奶茶成为现在难得的甜。
路上多了一些拉着行李的人,不知这是他们的归途还是启程。

I cannot tell how this pandemic has affected me yet. This disaster will leave indelible marks on many of us.
When we walk down a street, we will think about what it looked like in 2020. When we eat a certain dish, it will remind us how we were reluctant to eat it during the lockdown. We will dream about who we met and what happened during the lockdown.
I probably will not develop a special connection with this city, but I will remember that this city experienced a lockdown. I will not forget those empty streets.
The number of takeaway orders in Wuhan has increased in recent days. On March 26, it was reported that the number of milk-tea orders has grown eight times compared to three days before. We have experienced a lot of bitterness, and a cup of milk tea has become a rare sweetness in life.
I saw some people carrying their luggage on the streets. I do not know whether they were coming back or leaving.

Guo Jing: March 31, 2020

让人们保持“正常”的一个功能是社会的稳定。对那些在疫情期间失去亲人的人,有一些人觉得领完骨灰自己找个地方哭最好,不然就会乱。
本来,在亲人去世时办葬礼,当众哭再正常不过了,可是此时的正常却又被颠倒了,这是极端情况下被认定的“正常”。
社会连他们的哀悼痛哭都承载不了,那我们的社会是多么的不正常。社会如此地不正常,生活在其中的我们怎么做一个“正常人”呢?
社区志愿者昨晚在群里说:“各位好,今天我询问了门口的值守人员,现在凭健康码登记后就可以出去购买生活物品,药店也在慢慢放开,有需要的人可以自行购买”。
有人问:“你好!请问老年人也可以出去看病买东西吗?”
志愿者回复道:“你只要健康码是绿的就可以出去”,他又补充说,“凭绿码出去,限两个小时内。一次一户一人,现在还不是所有超市都对个人开放,如果不是非买不可的,最好还是不要频繁出门,外面还是不安全,特别是老人和小孩。出门请做好防护,注意排队距离,尽量不去拥挤的地方,如果不是必要尽量等到4月8日。”
看到这个消息,我激动地眼里泛起了泪花。我在支付宝上申请了健康码,准备今天出门。
我中午11点35分出小区,门口的保安问我出门做什么,我说:“买东西”。他让我用微信扫一个二维码,原来是要看微信上的健康码,我的微信没有绑定手机号,就还没有在微信上申请健康码。保安用体温枪给我量了体温,让我登记了一下信息,包括房间号、体温、出门的事由和时间,叮嘱我说:“出门时间是两个小时”。
我只有两个小时,要在13点35分回来。我骑了一辆共享单车,在熟悉的街道上骑着,却有种陌生感,我像是乱入地球的外星人,兴奋而紧张。我急于想要再次亲眼看看这外面的世界”
我骑车到江滩的入口,到江边走一走。江边的人比封小区前要多一些,有带着小孩玩的家长,有散步的情侣,有钓鱼的人。
前几天,有人问我:“解封后第一件事想做什么?”我说:到江边走一走,喊一喊。”吃跑了,我走到江边,稍微犹豫了一会儿,然后对着长江大喊:……”。接着,有两个人也跟着叫,其中一个人还连叫了三声。看来大家都被困得太久了。我又喊了几声,有点神清气爽的感觉。

People have to act “normal” in order to maintain social stability. Some people believe that those who have lost their relatives or friends in this pandemic should keep their tears private after they receive the ashes of their relatives or friends, so as not to destabilize society.
It is normal to cry in front of others during a relative's funeral. However, this norm has been denounced under these extreme conditions. Grief is not accepted by society. In such an abnormal society, how can individuals behave normally?
A community volunteer sent a message to our chatroom: “Hi, I asked the community staff at the gate today, and they told me that we can go shopping with a (green) health code. Some pharmacies are open now and you can go and buy necessary items.”
Someone asked, “Can the elderly go to see doctors and shop?”
The volunteer replied, “You can go out with a green code.” He added, “Only one person per household can go out and for two hours each at a time. Currently not all supermarkets are open to the public. If you don't have urgent needs, it's better not to go outside too often. It is not safe outside, especially for seniors and children. When you go outside, please wear protective gear and keep social distance from others. It is better not to go somewhere crowded. If it is not necessary, please hold on until April 8.”
I was so excited to see the message that tears came out of my eyes. I applied for the health code on Alipay and prepared to go out today.
I went out at 11:35 AM. The security guy checked my purpose of going outside. I said, “shopping”. He asked me to scan a QR code with “WeChat” to check my health code. As my WeChat is not linked to my mobile phone number, my health code could not be applied through WeChat. The security guy took my temperature and asked me to fill in a form, including room number, temperature, purpose of going outside, and the time of going outside. He reminded me, “You only have two hours.”
I only had two hours. I needed to go back at 1:35 PM. I took a bicycle and rode along streets that should be familiar, but looked foreign to me. I was like an alien arriving on Earth, excited and nervous. I was eager to see the “outside world.”
I rode to the entrance of the river park and walked along the river bank. There were more people there than before the lockdown — there were parents playing with kids, lovers strolling along the bank and people fishing.
Several days ago, someone asked me, “What is the first thing that you want to do when lockdown is lifted?” I said, “I want to walk by the river and yell.” After I ate some food, I walked towards the river, I took a breath and yelled loudly at the Yangtze River, “Ah~~~”. After me, two others yelled, too. One of them yelled three times. It seems that we have been stranded for too long. I yelled again and again. I felt refreshed after that.

1 comment

  • COVID-19 has stopped all the activities of the people around the world.
    We can’t do anything during this hard time.
    We are restricted to our houses because of lockdown.

    May God help us all!

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