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Pandemic policy update

National pandemic policy, in place from 4 November

Status: Tightened Partial Lockdown

• travel as little as possible. Travel by bicycle or on foot for short journeys if possible *
• have as few visitors to your home as possible, maximum of 2 per day maintaining 1.5m of distance from each other *
• no more than 2 people or 1 household can go somewhere or do something together, not counting children under 13 *
• all public locations must remain closed. This includes: restaurants, cafés, bars, cannabis cafés, libraries, cinemas, concert halls, all kinds of music venues, theatres and similar cultural venues, museums, presentation venues, heritage sites, zoos, amusements parks, casinos, amusement arcades, swimming pools, tour boats and sex establishments *
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• work from home if possible
• retail stores closed by 8pm
• no alcohol sold after 8pm
• all food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted

*revised from the previous policy update

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Follow the river

Today we followed the Kromme Rijn out of Utrecht for a short distance, returning via Erasmaslaan and the Rietveld Schröderhuis before heading into the neighbourhood of Schildersbuurt (which got me checking house prices on Funda). We were very happy to stumble across Olijfje, a very well-stocked organic grocery store which will probably become our go-to when we move to Adriaen van Ostadelaan on the 1st of December.

On a good day it would be nice to follow the river much further to Wijk bij Duurstede, a 29km walk southeast. Two more routes: the 5km Rietveld route, and the Singel Park 360° which loops Leiden’s old city.

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What we’ve lost

2020 has been an odd year to celebrate momentous occasions. And, ironically, there seems to be more momentous occasions in my immediate realm this year than years past. Thirtieth and sixtieth birthdays, a birth, two weddings, a ten year wedding anniversary, thankfully no funerals…

Major crises like pandemics, wars and environmental disasters demand resilience of individuals and communities: they require adjustment, reconfiguration, compromise and loss, on a massive scale.

Changes made by very ordinary citizens have the capacity to facilitate the preservation of life. In this pandemic, change has meant mask-wearing, social distancing, working from home and limited travel. In wars it has meant curfews, blackouts, food rationing. In my experience, the required modifications have been uncomfortable but entirely doable because the situation is so critical.

Having never previously lived through a global event of this kind – one which completely disrupts ‘normality’ for an extended period of time – I’d never really thought about the continuation of life on these terms. In the context of a pandemic, the civic duty to preserve life significantly suppresses the continuation of life. They are in opposition to each other.

In a post from early August I marvelled at how adaptable humans are, and indeed it is true. But three months further along, the reality of this long-term game is more tangible. It has become more necessary to acknowledge anxiety, disappointment and frustration to safe-guard my endurance – also known as the reliable human need to vent, the need to have ones grievances heard before getting on with things. Reconfiguring birthdays, weddings, anniversaries… a spring, a summer, an autumn… indefinitely postponing a visit to see my mum on the other side of the world… It has all been doable but, like every other crisis bystander in the history of time, we won’t ever get back what we’ve lost during this period of partially suspended liberty. At the same time, we are extremely fortunate to be bystanders and not victims. A pandemic is an extraordinary thing to have lived through.

The other day I started to wonder what shape life will take as the pandemic eases (returning to ‘normal’ is not desirable). I suspect that change will happen slowly. As a consequence, it may be harder to register our increasing freedoms and be grateful for them. An idea: it seems pedantic to log every pandemic policy change as it arises, but I will try it as a way of making myself more aware of the current status and what I have to be grateful for, when it finally arrives.

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Pandemic policy update

Today’s national pandemic policy, in place since 14 October

Status: Partial Lockdown

• work from home if possible
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• limit travel
• maximum of 3 visitors to your home in one day
• no more than 4 people can form a group outside the home
• retail stores closed by 8pm
• no alcohol sold after 8pm
• all food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted
• museums, zoos, amusement parks by staggered appointment

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London and beyond

On Wednesday MR picked up 50 rolls of processed film from as far back as March 2018. Nightly, we have made our way through a chunk of the contact sheets – each grabbing one and following the frames from top left to bottom right, rotating the sheet as necessary. The studious silence is broken occasionally with ‘oh yeh, this’, ‘this one is great’, ‘where is this??!’. On reaching sheets end we swap. Read becomes unread becomes read. The stack is in no given order, transporting us from London to The Lakes to New York to Uluru, back to London, to Sydney, to Paris. After exhausting our memory store, we start packing.

In a kind of temporal tumble turn we’re projected into the past and then launched into an unknown future.

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Paimio Sanatorium

Thinking about the restorative quality of sunshine reminded me of the Paimio Sanatorium, completed in 1933, designed by Alvar Aalto and featuring sun terraces for tuberculosis patients. It was included in Living with Buildings, a particularly sensitive exhibition that explored the impact of architecture on wellbeing, at the Wellcome Collection last year.

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Reverie in l’Orangerie

Monet’s Water Lilies are one of very few works of art that have physically overwhelmed me on viewing. The life-sized canvases are entirely mesmerising, ‘no sky, no horizon, hardly any perspective or stable points of reference enabling the viewer to orient himself…’.

The first room in 1930 © Albert Harlingue / Roger-Viollet, via the Museum

The intimacy is heightened further by their 360 degree installation in the two sequential oval rooms of Musée de l’Orangerie. On entering the second room, we found ourselves entirely alone – due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The deserted room was an unexpected gift and truer to the artist’s original intent for the viewer:

Those with nerves exhausted by work would relax there, following the restful example of those still waters, and, to whoever entered it, the room would provide a refuge of peaceful meditation in the middle of a flowering aquarium.

Claude Monet, 1909