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Quarantine Diaries, Day 34

(Posted 19 Apr 2020, 23:50)

20:39 Our energy provider sends us a monthly report detailing our usage of electricity and gas. It tells us how our consumption compares to the same month last year.

In March, our electricity and gas usage went up by 17% and 36% respectively.

Electricity and Gas usage under lockdownElectricity and Gas usage under lockdown

We’ve spent a little over half of March under lockdown. The days here are bright and the fan hasn’t come out yet. The only incremental electricity use over days before the lockdown is for charging our laptops all day. On the other hand, we are definitely cooking a whole lot more at home than we used to. The additional gas usage therefore sounds about right.

April would go even higher.

19:05 Each day we get new glimpses of what the world after the lockdown would look like. The neighbourhood branch of Coffee Company has now taped yellow rectangles on the footpath outside for you to stand in while you wait for your order. And if you didn’t order online, you could stand in the red rectangles on the other side of the building and await your turn.

Yellow rectangles for pickupYellow rectangles for pickup

Red rectangles for orderingRed rectangles for ordering

Others are merely parroting government advice - stay 1.5m apart, don’t enter the shop if you have flu-like symptoms, pay using a contactless card etc. etc.

Shopping instructions during a pandemic…Shopping instructions during a pandemic…

I see the following problems:

  • Most shops, especially the boutique kind, aren’t big enough to enforce 1.5m distance when in use by more than 2 to 3 customers.

  • Queueing outside a shop for 15 minutes is not fun, so many would not be willing. To say nothing of the revenue lost on missed impulse purchases.

  • Most parts of central Amsterdam are not big enough to allow queueing beyond a certain point.

Social distancing without at least a partial lockdown isn’t practical in most parts of Amsterdam1. I feel particularly bad for small, independent stores that’ll bear the brunt of a situation entirely not of their own making.

18:30 Random sighting on today’s walk: drawings by children stuck to the windows of their house telling passersby to stay strong.

Blijf Sterk • Stay StrongBlijf Sterk • Stay Strong


  1. Panama and Columbia tried some interesting partial lockdown strategies but these would be unpalatable in a liberal western democracy.

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