The global pandemic that our world is currently facing has forced its citizens to change their daily lives entirely. Individuals are working from home, altering the way they shop, and postponing (or worse, canceling) travel plans and life events. The 2020 COVID-19 outbreak has created a feeling of uncertainty and discomfort amongst us all but, as a result of this, people are innovating new ways to come together. While everyone is affected differently by the impacts of this virus, we are all doing our best to get through it. From the U.K. to the beaches of Uruguay, people around the world are coming together despite being mandated to stay apart.
Boosting morale by balcony serenade
One of the demographics deemed most vulnerable to the coronavirus by the World Health Organization (WHO) are those over 60-years of age. For a country like Italy with the largest elderly population in Europe, this has worsened the already bleak state of the population’s health. In early March, Italy became the first democratic country to impose a nationwide lockdown for the first time since World War II. The outbreak of COVID-19 spread so quickly, the number of coronavirus deaths became second only to China. Boosting morale might seem impossible during a time when 40 percent of the population sits in the high-risk category for contracting a virus there is no vaccine for, but Italians across the country found a way to make grim circumstances a bit brighter.
Apartment blocks and residential communities have begun singing from their balconies or through open windows. In Siena, the Italian National Anthem was belted by neighbours in a sign of togetherness. The Instagram icon and fashion designer, Chiara Ferragni, who has used her social media platforms to raise money for Italian hospitals, has also rallied famous Italian musicians together to host concerts on Instagram live, bringing music to the hearts of millions. The model’s musician husband, Fedez, has also hosted nightly concerts from their flat in Milan.
Staying active and isolated
The Spanish government mandated a nationwide lockdown, much like Italy, due to increasing concerns over the high number of COVID-19 cases spreading across the country. Spain recently saw 800 coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period. Residents were informed that they could only leave their homes for food or in case of medical emergencies.
Despite these conditions, they aren’t letting quarantine keep them from exercising. In Seville, a video went viral of a fitness instructor leading a workout from a rooftop. People joined in the movement from their apartment balconies, maintaining the lockdown rules while still attaining their daily sweat. Physical fitness is tied to mental wellbeing, so these organized workouts not only provide movement but help individuals reduce stress levels.
Face mask manufacturing
In New Zealand, where the government has been considered quite proactive in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, overall spirits seem positive. Schools and non-essential businesses have been shut in a four-week nationwide lockdown. Supermarkets have implemented a one-shopper-in, one-shopper-out policy and are strictly rationing certain products to eliminate overcrowding and prevent hoarding. The prime minister has been quoted as saying, “ New Zealand, you have one job — to save lives.”
New Zealand-owned businesses are doing their part in this battle by finding creative solutions to community needs. One of the largest clothing manufacturers in the nation has converted its factory facilities to produce face masks for health workers, police officers, and other emergency service staff. This kind of innovative thinking from large businesses is leadership in action and these strategic moves are being applauded by the government.
Teddy bear walks for children
New Zealand has also recognized the effects of school closure and lockdown on children. With parks closed and outdoor exercise limited to a daily walk or run, keeping physical distancing in mind, parents worry that children may feel cooped up.
To put a smile on their young ones’ faces, residential areas have begun putting teddy bears in their windows. Children going for their daily walks with guardians can now go on a “bear hunt” to spot the various stuffed toys in windowsills. It’s been a simple way to inject joy into the lives of little ones.
Clapping for carers and lighting London up blue
The most recent of these connective community events took place in the United Kingdom. The U.K. has faced much backlash for having a seemingly slow reaction time despite its European neighbors’ early warnings. London recently went into a citywide shutdown for everyone except for those the government deems “essential workers”.
On March 26th, millions of British residents stood on their doorsteps and clapped their hands to show their support of National Health Service (NHS) workers. The event was enough to give even the hardest of cynics an arm full of goosebumps. To top it all off, the audible camaraderie was set against blue backdrops, as some of Britain’s most famous landmarks were lit up in a bright royal hue to show support of all the work the NHS is doing.
No one has lived through a global event quite like this before, but humans are resilient, most especially when we unify. Because of this, now more than ever, the world is finding new ways to connect with one another. My hope is that we all emerge from this period of history with reestablished priorities and newfound gratitude for humanity.