The ‘Rona Squeeze & A Swedish Hip-Hopper
And so it was time again.
Tightened restrictions, mandatory limits on public life, curfews, orders to stay-at-home, travel bans with invasive hoops, and all the other anti-corona policies that ostensibly aren’t lookdowns: they look like lockdowns, they quack like lockdowns, but in these euphemism-prone times we call them by any other names than lockdowns.
Maddeningly, the goalpost keeps shifting, updating life and language faster and better than George Orwell himself could have done.
First, we had to take precautions to flatten the curve. Hospitals and fears, remember? Then we had to stop traveling, or visit the mall ‒ because who needs that, anyway?
Then we had to wear cloth over our faces and stay away from each other. For the elderly’s sake, naturally.
Then we had to give up public life for everyone’s sake.
The next step, bravely taken by authoritarian politicians and epidemiologists across the Western world, is to intentionally overdo the restrictions ‒ “for now” ‒ so that we have any hope of getting freedoms back for the holidays.
No matter how hard these enlightened autocrats have squeezed, this badly-behaved virus refuses to listen. How odd, they must think; we passed a law, made an announcement ‒ why isn’t it working?
Back to your rooms, the Austrians said. After an explosive number of positive tests in the last week, enough with the provisional liberties and niceties, you’re grounded for the rest of November. Gatherings and cultural events are closed; Christmas markets are out. The Icelanders, already in the spring proclaimed corona free and all summer celebrated in puff pieces by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker and Adam Roy Gordon in the Atlantic, still dreamily speak of celebrating Christmas.
When the latest rounds of tighter and tighter restrictions came into effect this week, the government talking heads, and the prime minister in particular, told their subjects to give up on Halloween and the next few weeks. Let’s sacrifice these few weeks, they said, so that we can loosen restrictions for Christmas.