We are now in the third wave, and it is the highly contagious Delta variant. So many people are getting sick. In fact, my husband tested positive this week, and my daughter and I are experiencing symptoms, so we are all in quarantine for two weeks. Our kids’ school has been in upheaval because so many children, parents and teachers are either sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick and had to isolate. That’s something distinctive about this third wave – lots of children are getting sick. In many cases the symptoms are not severe, but it’s alarming how rapidly the virus is spreading. We are currently in a two-week lockdown that includes the closing of churches, schools, gyms, movie theatres and restaurants (except for deliveries and take out).
Current conditions in our country are pretty bleak, to be honest. It’s really disheartening watching the western world open up while people around us are suffering. Since mid-March of last year, we’ve been in some kind of lockdown or restrictions – with only short time periods when we’ve been allowed to go out as a family. The current lockdown restrictions are such that almost all businesses are closed, all parks are closed and there is a limit on the amount of people that can be in a car, which I think is two. Prayers are greatly needed for our country. Many of my friends have talked about feeling dread just because we’re walking through this dark tunnel with no end in sight. Many of our co-workers have expressed exhaustion, especially as parents work on keeping morale up in homes as kids face this fourth lockdown.
We are close to getting back to normal. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can cross the border now between Canada and the U.S. with negative COVID tests. When re-entering Canada, we no longer have to quarantine as long as we test negative. This is encouraging because Canada was pretty far behind in getting vaccines. When the third wave of COVID hit, not many had been vaccinated. But now, more and more vaccines are available and most restrictions have been lifted. Our region is in stage three of what they are calling the “Open for Summer” plan. Masks are only required in a few places and gathering restrictions have been lifted. Churches are meeting regularly and holding events, like Vacation Bible School. And the seminary where I teach will be open for full, in-person classes this fall.
COVID where we are right now could be described as confusing. New cases are at or near all-time highs which indicates it is spreading throughout the population. At the same time, people are getting vaccinated. They are now offering free vaccinations for those over 40. We no longer have restrictions other than the masks which are required everywhere – no days of quarantines or lockdowns and no travel restrictions. The country also stopped negative COVID test requirements to enter the country. We had the longest lockdown when COVID first hit, and then went through a long time of periodic quarantines. I assume the economic devastation has led to the stoppage, along with a time of protests and marches which we are still in. This has made it a weird time for all. From what I know, each country in South America is doing different things. And even in different parts of one country, things can be different.
Where I live in Europe, we’re returning to normal life after COVID. It was a rough winter in lockdown. All of our ministries were online, which made moving to a new city difficult. But since April the sunshine has melted that away to where our country feels mostly normal again. Restaurants are open. My wife and I were looking at cinema tickets yesterday. I even saw a local newspaper headline that people are losing interest in getting COVID vaccines. We are comfortable using public transportation. There are still restrictions, like I still wear a mask indoors to follow Polish law, but we haven’t had an outdoor mask mandate for more than a month. After living in a city that was a shadow of itself, without even people out on the streets, we love seeing crowds again. What a relief!