East Coast, West Coast
Back home indoors after almost a month away in the United States. The dog was ignoring me, but we rekindled a little on our morning walk earlier.
It was pretty restorative being away from this small isle for the past 4 weeks, travelling East Coast to West, and back again. When I left at the beginning of December Covid was in the rear view mirror and now it is back in the front seat. California and Florida have a complete different mindset when it comes to the pandemic, and one could easily see that after spending time in both States.
Out West, two of the biggest and most ebullient cities in California, if not the country – Los Angeles and San Francisco – were shadows of their former selves, at least in the downtown financial districts. I am sure life still exists in neighbourhoods beyond the hub of the cities, but at it’s centre they were depressingly dormant with stores ans restaurants shuttered and homelessness being a major problem.
The State California has dealt out some very strict mandates and Northern and Southern Californians have been living for sometime under a host of restrictions. Conversely in Florida, most people appear to have moved on, citing freedom of choice led by Governor Ron DiSantis, a vocal opponent to federal rules hoisted upon them by Joe Biden’s Democratic Government.
California, a vast nation in it’s own right has every micro-climate and social cultural activity needed to never leave, but many people are abandoning the State for others in the country, including Florida, with West Coasters pushing house prices up in Sarasota for example.
Bermuda is always behind the curve and just as Omicron hit global headlines, Bermuda’s government were relaxing restrictions to the most open they’d been since the pandemic began. That was as I was leaving for the month, but suffice to say they soon tore up those rules, and now we are back to limiting group numbers, postponing sporting activities, hampering restaurants and bars with new rulings and recommending we go back working from home.
I was also back in the UK in November when I was the only person wearing a mask on the tube as Londoners (mostly) enjoyed getting back to some sort of normality. That aged quickly and even Boris doesn’t know what he is going to do next.
The U.S. and large parts of Europe are reporting record daily numbers, but this strain looks to be less deadly and hospitalizations are a lot down on a year ago. The higher numbers maybe due to delays over the Christmas period. Bermuda hasn’t announced numbers for a week, so when they come probably tonight they will no doubt throw everyone into a wobbly.
I got a lot of different perspectives travelling for five of these past six weeks, and despite many barriers and new rules to navigate, my curiosity and sense adventure has not diminished. My view is that people have now made their vaccine choices, admittedly not possible in every country, but now we need to move on respecting people’s choice safely and wisely as we move into endemic territory and not pandemic.