The scene here in Seychelles has changed dramatically for us. We are in complete lockdown which started April 8th and is scheduled to continue until May 4th. It feels so strange spending all of our time at home. We moved here in order to live outdoors and as much as we're grateful for having our green garden, we do truly miss the beach.
The regulations regarding lockdown are as follows:
-Everyone is restricted from outdoor movement aside from within their property. Not including employees of essential services.
-All shops aside from food shops and pharmacies are closed.
-All restaurants and take-away restaurants are closed but they can do delivery.
-Banks are open.
-Physical distancing should be practiced( but different places have different ideas of what this means...for example, we've seen a sign saying please stay 1 meter away, and other signs that say 2 meters away).
-People from different homes should not meet for any formal or informal activities.
-Bus services have been reduced.
-All construction work has ceased.
-Schools are closed.
-No transport carrying construction workers will be permitted.
-Travel between islands is restricted.
-As mentioned previously in our article about the initial phases of Covid-19, the airport is closed.
-Not allowed out after 6pm otherwise you could be fined 20,000 Seychellois Rupees (about 1,000 Euros) or up to 2 years in prison.
What does the lockdown look like in the Seychelles?
This is a small island, with one of the world's smallest capital cities. The city is always jam packed with cars and traffic jams, except now. It seems strange seeing just a few people on the streets. It has been challenging for the local people to follow the instructions from the president—not to assemble, not to have more than two people together. Initially, people continued to congregate at the beach, in shops, behind shops, on the streets, around bus stops, in their homes, and pretty much everywhere they could. I wouldn't say it ever has reached the point where everyone is adhering to the rules, as we can hear a house party nearby just as we write out this article...however, driving to the shop and to town you definitely notice the lack of hustle and bustle.
I was stopped by the police when I was putting garbage in the bin at the end of my road. They were asking me where I was going and were asking me to get home asap...even though I was only with my 2 year old, they don't want to see you out, anywhere unless you are walking to the shop to get essential items. We are not permitted to get out for exercise including walks/hikes, even if you were on your own. There has been 200 arrests for violating the above regulations.
People who suffer from addictions are still being provided with methadone from various sites. We've noticed there are still people congregating to use or drink in shady corners.
We find that people aren't as friendly and talkative as they were before. We try to still stay pleasant when speaking with shop keepers or the pharmacist and people seem shut down. The shops are trying to in-still social distancing techniques like the west, but it's not exactly working out. For example, I went to the grocery store and finally they had a restricted number of people allowed in the store. This rule is very recent, so that was a step forward. However, whilst I was queueing up to go to the shop, there was about 8 staff all huddled chit chatting handing out the trolleys for us. Not exactly social distancing, and not really great for them touching all those dirty trolleys, with no gloves or handsanitizer.
Availability of goods?
There is still toilet paper in the shops here, so no shortage. We've decided we're going to give banana leaves a go! Why not spare ourselves the harsh chemicals on toilet paper while we're at it. More on banana leaf toilet paper to follow...
As for groceries, the grocery stores are okay...there certainly was never a vast variety of fruits and veg compared to places in the west, and now it is definitely narrowed down. I was just grateful to get some fresh produce, and I have learned how to use all the varieties of bananas in various ways as is done here. The Seychellois usually grow their own food, as it is so expensive here for produce. What a vital skill to learn now! The pharmacies are more depleted of essential items and I ended up having to run around a fair bit to get some essential items we needed. In the end I suppose it pushes us to be more dependent on what's available in nature all around us to support our health. Plus, being in a pharmacy during Covid-19 is really not the ideal place to be. No one wears face masks, and social distancing is still so foreign for many people.
Personal thoughts on how the government is handling the situation:
In general, we think that the government is handling it quite well. We have had only 11 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and putting the lockdown in place was a good push to ensure that everyone stays safe. It is unfortunate as I mentioned, we can't get out for walks, or to the beach which feels intense given the number of cases we've had. In the long run though, we appreciate that the government is doing their best to ensure the pandemic doesn't spread like it has elsewhere by not taking the necessary precautions.
Hotel Updates for Travellers:
After contacting a few hotels ourselves to find out about re-opening dates all hotels we heard from did not plan on re-opening until August 1st, 2020 at the earliest.
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