Living with coronavirus lockdown

Muscat: Even as the lockdown has left the public spaces deserted and eerily quiet, majority of the people in the capital city of Muscat appeared to have learnt to stay at home.

The streets are empty in the otherwise bustling downtown Ruwi and Muttrah after checkpoints were set up to control the movement of people as part of the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

With the security forces out to enforce the rules, citizens and residents are adapting to telecommuting or work at home.

Although the overall situation is tense, it is orderly everywhere with most people staying at homes, said A Shueili, a journalist in Al Amerat.

“I am getting adjusted to staying and working from home, although it is a first time experience. I find it a way of balancing work and life. I enjoy it”, he said.

Thanks to the technology, he said, working from home makes it easier as discussions with my staff relating to our activities can be done using video conferencing apps, he said.

“I host daily meetings with my staff through these apps and it works well”, Shueili said.

For Mohamed al Lawati, too, work from home provides an opportunity to restore the balance.

“It helps save a lot of time as we do not spend time on commuting. This can be used for spending time with family or for leisure”, he said.

He also said that working from home can lead to fewer interruptions from colleagues and other problems including the rush of people coming and going at peak times.

But he did not forget to say, “You may of course find yourself getting distracted by family members or flatmates”.

Yakoob al Balushi, an employee with an event management company, said he is comfortable with working from home.

“The advantage I find is that I can use my own space, my own things, and wear what I like. In addition, it’s easier to do household chores like washing or cooking meals”, he said.

All businesses in the city have been shut except utilities, medical suppliers, logistics companies and food processing firms.

The vast majority of the population appeared to be following appeals to stay at home except to buy food, care for vulnerable people, do work deemed essential.

“It has been over a week the lockdown started. I watch the days go by one after another. I don’t know how long days like this are going to last”, said Mubarak al Wahaibi, a retired schoolteacher in Ruwi.

“But still it is good. We have to adjust ourselves to eradicate this virus, and to do this, all of us have to confine ourselves. If we don’t do so, we spread the virus, and that’s a bad thing. So yes, it’s very, very good”, he said.

But there is still some emotions triggered by the lockdown. Although it was panic in the initial time, it has come to almost an acceptance.

“We have to accept this as reality, and we need to change our lifestyle to adapt to this new life”, said Mohsin Parampil, an Indian expatriate.

For Mohamed Nooruddin, the present situation is like a battle for survival.

“It is worse than a war. We are all affected. But the worst hit are our livelihoods. My company just said the management is analysing the situation. I’m not sure what that means”, he said.