Monday, 30 March, 2020

Lockdown has put people off the streets, but not off work


By Ashish Mishra

Kathmandu, Mar. 27: The government imposed a nationwide lockdown from Tuesday to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country and while there have been some violators, most people have obeyed the government’s orders to stay indoors.
But how exactly are people spending their time inside the house? Well, students like Subekchhya Jha and Mohit Shrestha are utilising this time to prepare for their postponed SEE exams. “The exams will probably be conducted in the third or fourth week of April so I have to be prepared for them,” Jha said.
Shrestha said he did not need much preparation, but was still revising so he doesn’t forget his studies. “I was fully prepared for March 19 (when SEE exams were scheduled to begin), so I don’t need much studies,” he said rather proudly, “Nevertheless, I still do some light reading so that I don’t forget what I studied.”
Students of other levels are also busy preparing for their exams. Umesh Tamrakar is busy brushing up for his Grade 12 board exams which are scheduled to begin from April 20. “There hasn’t been any news of its postponement so I must be prepared,” he said. Similarly, exams of Grade 11 are also set to begin from May 3, giving the students a little more than a month to study.
While students may be preparing for exams and catching up on their studies, adults are busy with their office work. Because of the lockdown, many offices closed their doors but they have not shut down their operations. Instead, they are asking their employees to ‘work from home’ by means of digital technology.
Gagan Karki is one such person currently working from home and he shared that his lockdown days were similar to his working days.
“I have to be online from 10 to 5; I still have to attend [virtual] meetings, I do my daily presentations through Google Meet and my attendance is recorded in the office’s MIS. I am still as busy as I was before the lockdown,” Karki, who works with an accountancy firm, said.
The lockdown hasn’t been a holiday for those without regular office either. In fact, for homemakers like Laxmi Bam, the lockdown has made their days more hectic than usual. “Everyone is at home so that means multiple tea sessions, snacks and lunches,” she described her days. “Also, the house seems to get a lot dirtier when everyone is around so it needs to be cleaned more often. Sometimes, the children try to go outside to play so we have to make them understand while, at the same time, not making them scared.”
But while there has been no official declaration, there is a possibility that the lockdown can

extend beyond its stated period of one week if the situation does not improve. And that has scared people.
“We are prepared for one week and maybe even 15 days but a longer lockdown would make our life difficult,” said Bam, adding, “We understand that the government might need to extend the closure but it should give us a few days after Tuesday to re-stock our supplies and get our outside work done before re-imposing the shutdown.”
Karki was worried about what an extended lockdown would mean to his salary. “As long as the office stays closed, our salaries won’t be deposited and it would put financial pressure on me and my family,” he said.
While people may be physically alright, the lockdown seems to be taking a psychological and economical toll and being bound in one’s house for a long period of time scaring average citizens. 

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