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Quarantine Fatigue Is Here and Real

May 11th, 2020 by Kenneth Abrahams

You had to know it was coming unless you weren’t paying attention. There are protests across the country urging states to reopen. Go on Facebook and look at the posts from people bemoaning the fact that they can’t get their hair or nails done. Sit on a Zoom call and you will hear people express how tired they are sitting at home viewing the world through a computer. Better yet, go out and walk in your neighborhood, you will notice an increase in vehicle traffic, while potentially seeing less people taking their daily walks. If you walk far enough, especially on weekends, you will see house or lawn parties with guests that are clearly not occupants of the house. Last weekend, I even saw one party goer proudly wearing his mask on the back of his head. Quarantine Fatigue is real, and it is here.

There are many reasons for this. The weather is turning warmer and people have been cooped up in their houses for the better part of 2 months. Most of us have had their routines abruptly ripped up and thrown away. Not only are we being asked/told that we need to work remotely but many among us are taking on new roles as teachers. Children are spending endless hours inside their homes with only siblings to play with. Playdates, birthday parties, athletic practices and games are a thing of the past. Believe it or not, I have actually heard parents say they miss all the driving that they did on a weekly basis. Spouses are spending more time together than many of them have ever done before. Some are managing it well, but others are struggling; one divorce attorney mentioned that calls to their office inquiring about divorce have more than tripled recently.

Along with that, there is mounting financial pressure on many individuals and families. Right now, many people are okay with the big boosts that the government is providing in unemployment, but that is a short-term safety net not a long-term solution. Business owners nationwide are concerned with the long-term effect of this. When it looked like a 2- or 3-week shutdown, that was manageable but when the Mayor of the City of Boston cancels all large-scale events and gatherings for the Summer, that makes people nervous. Restaurants are wondering how they survive at 20 – 50% capacity for the foreseeable future. Who will feel safe going into a restaurant being served by someone that looks like an extra on the set of the movie Outbreak anyway?

As businesses open this is only going to get worse. Business owners and patrons alike will be wondering why business X can open, while they stay shuttered. Golf courses are now open while hair salons are closed. Nail salons, tattoo parlors, even dog groomers claim that they adhere to a higher safety/cleanliness standard than grocery stores or restaurants, yet they can’t open. Many are claiming that this whole situation is unamerican and infringes on their basic rights. How long are they supposed to wait to begin to get their lives and businesses open and on track? Luckily, I am not a politician and not expected to be able to answer these questions.

What I can tell you is that I believe this is still a dire situation. There was a woman during the rally in Boston shouting that this was really a disease that attacks only the old and those with underlying medical conditions. She apparently missed the story of the 39-year-old that died from it or the 24-year-old former Bates College Lacrosse player that battled for weeks before triumphing over the disease or even the more recent reports of children getting rare inflammatory diseases they think might be related to Covid19.  Even if she is right and those individuals are the most susceptible, if my actions can prevent one person from burying a loved one, do I not have that responsibility as a member of society?

Recently, I needed to get allergy shots. Normally, this is a simple process, the office is open certain times during the week, you show up, sign in and get your shots. Now it is far more rigid, you make an appointment for a specific time and sit in a large but almost empty waiting room. As soon as a patient leaves the chairs are wiped down and there is plenty of social distancing. During my visit an elderly woman came in. She was wearing a mask that was covered by a scarf, while she waited she was in the corner of the room as far away from another human being as possible and she faced the wall. Clearly, she was uncomfortable being outside of her own home.

Being a small business owner myself, I understand the Quarantine Fatigue and the frustration. As I have alluded to previously, I miss my friends, co-workers, and clients. Working at home is not awful but not ideal because I miss my desk. What I am most tired of are some of the phrases. No longer do I sign emails stay safe and stay healthy, prior to this I didn’t tell people to stay safe and healthy it was a given. Out an abundance of caution, these are uncharted waters, we will all get through this together are other phrases I am tired of hearing but that is just me.

What am I not tired of? Praising health care workers, good teachers, first responders, grocery store employees, police, firemen and women and so many others that are out there day to day doing incredible work. You only need to look at the recent batch of Walmart employees who have become sick to understand that they too are putting themselves at risk.  This is fun for no one but the alternative is far worse. We will open eventually to the new normal (another phrase I hate) and maybe at some point it will look and feel like December 1, 2019, but that time is a long way off.

Personal note from the Author

Often, here I will put something witty or funny (at least I think it is) but I don’t feel particularly jovial today. It saddens me that so many people have died from this. More than 80 veterans at the time of this writing have died from Covid-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers home here in Massachusetts. These people were willing to sacrifice their lives to enable us to have the benefits of freedom and many died much sooner then they should have and most died with none of their family by their sides.


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