Just last week we shared about COVID restrictions being eased over the last few months (in Will’s words, “stores being open for little boys”), and today is day 1 of our new government-mandated quarantine.
Just a couple days after our last post (where we also shared about our 1000 Hours Outside challenge), Peruvian President, Francisco Sagasti, addressed the nation announcing that the government has established a 5-level scale and has divided the 24 regions into the various levels of risk/infection (extreme, very high, high, moderate, low). No region is in the low or moderate level; the remainder are split between the 3 highest levels, and the restrictions are more strict the higher the level. Lima is currently in the extreme level.
So starting at 12:01am this morning Lima and the other regions in the extreme risk level are under a full quarantine/lockdown for the next two weeks. All non-essential shops are closed and the only places open to the public will be pharmacies, grocery stores/bodegas/markets and banks. Department stores and those that have an online presence are allowed to sell through their website and make deliveries. Restaurants are closed for in-person dining but are open for takeaway and delivery. Only 1 person from each household is allowed to go grocery shopping at a time, and we are no longer allowed to use our personal cars. We are also only allowed outside for 1 hour per day for exercise/mental health and should remain home the remainder of the time.
Will riding his bike through our neighborhood park
Shortly after Christmas the government banned flights from Europe due to the new variant, and that restriction has been extended–now including South Africa and Brazil. Unlike the first time, the international border has remained open to other destinations as of right now.
We are experiencing a second wave of infections, and with the variants, it sounds like there will be more positive cases this time than we had a year ago during our first quarantine. Experts are predicting that we will not hit our peak until April. According to Johns Hopkins University, Peru has reported more than one million cases and about 40,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
Billy and I spent the last couple days getting ready to go back into quarantine by stocking up on some non-perishables and making coordinations with some of the young men we are working with. And, we made sure to take extra time outside with Will going to parks that will be too far to walk to and watching the sunset along the coast.
Watching the sunset from the cliffs in Miraflores
Walking along the terraces of Loma Amarilla
During one of our walks I was commenting to Billy how these last few days have felt very similar to the last few days of a trip to the US. We know our time is wrapping up before returning to Lima (or in this case, going into quarantine). Our everyday activities–especially the time we spend with friends and family–turn into sentimental events since we don’t know when we will be able to do it again. This quarantine is currently only mandated for two weeks, but we suspect that it will be much longer. We spent almost 5 months in quarantine the first time in 2020, extended each time in two week increments.
Feeding fish and ducks at the Parque de la Amistad
Thankfully we are going into this quarantine better prepared than the first time; when department stores were able to start delivering items in July 2020, we were able to purchase a desk to give Billy a dedicated work space in our bedroom and a small chest freezer for our pantry so we had to make less frequent trips to Makro, our Costco-like grocery store.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for most families here. The majority of Peruvians live off of each day’s earnings and if they are not working, they cannot provide for their family. Many small businesses took a hit during the first quarantine closure and were finally able to reopen. They will now have to close again.
It’s difficult knowing we have to go back into a lockdown and are losing some of the freedoms we recently got back, but we are thankful for our health and that we have a safe place to quarantine at home. Join us in praying for the country of Peru and that these measures taken will make a positive impact on the pandemic here.
– Kate, Billy and Will