As the Coronavirus spreads across the globe and brings everything almost to a halt, we’re keen to hear from Laois people dotted around the world.
How has the Coronavirus effected their daily life? What measures are being taken where they live? Are people doing enough? And would they like to come home?
Today we chat with Philip Lalor, a Mountmellick man who was working as a chef in the Valencia region of Spain but who is now in Day 11 of lockdown.
Where are you based and what are you working at?
I am currently based in the Valencia region in Spain. I am working in the hospitality sector training and working as a chef. It is something I never did before but I am enjoying it.
What is the situation like where you are?
Currently I am on day 11 of a 30 day lockdown. I am not allowed work. I am not allowed to leave the house only to go to the supermarket, pharmacy or hospital and if you are going to these places it has to be individually keeping a two-metre distance always.
Only one person is allowed per car also. To go for a walk, run is out of the question as you will be fined and/or detained for breaching lockdown. I am lucky I have a little balcony to get some air on. As of today there is over 3,000 dead and nearly 50,000 affected.
Do you know anyone that has been affected by the Coronavirus?
Thankfully I do not. I really hope this won’t happen either but it is a possibility unfortunately.
What measures have the authorities taken where you are?
The authorities here have and are really doing an amazing job. They have imposed heavy fines and detainment for people who breach lockdown and social distancing. Throughout the day and night police drive around saying on speaker phone “Quadete en casa” – in English stay at home.
Do you feel people where you are are taking it seriously enough?
I would think yes they are but of course there is always a few that don’t follow rules and put everyone else in danger.
How has it impacted your work arrangement?
I work with the public so I am not allowed work. As a result I lost my job but the government are making new rules that people who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 will receive 75% of pay and be reinstated when lockdown ends. I hope
Are you happy to stay where you are? Have you considered coming home?
I would not risk coming home as I’m in a highly infected area so I would. My parents have asked me but I think it’s best to wait until everything is calmed down. Yes it upsets me but it’s for the best.
How are you staying in touch with family and friends?
Thankfully the power of social media helps me keep in contact with family and friends. WhatsApp video also with family. It’s great to see them to know they are healthy and well, except for when my dad is cooking an Irish breakfast on a video call and then that’s all I want!
Is there any positives that you see coming from this?
Yes I think people will appreciate more life itself. I think we all take for granted the little things in life even being able to go for a coffee or something to eat.
For all the amazing workers who are working during this pandemic, healthcare workers, supermarket workers, cleaners, truckers, volunteers I know will be appreciated even more than they already are. Our true heroes. The way the world is showing solidarity to one another I think will bring more close friendships.
Of course the earth has taken a well deserved break from pollution. I hope and I think this will continue also.
Have you found yourself doing things now that you wouldn’t have previously?
In lockdown you have to push yourself to do some activities. Watching TV, cleaning, home exercise seems great but that soon gets tiring. You do have the occasional “get me out of here feeling” but it’s normal. It’s tough.
I find myself actually reading books, something I never did or thought I had the patience to do before. I am also writing a lot more including songs and poems. I guess when you are locked away from normal life you start to find a piece of yourself you never knew existed. Who knows what will happen after 30 days.
If I could say one more thing it would be that Ireland has a chance to not become China Italy, Spain etc.
Please follow the rules and stay at home. Look after friends and family from a distance. We will get through this, it’s the Irish way.