As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, billions of people are confined to their homes. The way we move through, work in, and think about our countries has radically changed. And this has left us wondering which of these adjustments will endure beyond the end of the pandemic, and what life might look like on the other side.
Right now, all eyes are on China, after the government announced on March 25 that it would start lifting travel restrictions on residents after months of lockdown.
We spoke to our Senior Account Manager, Sean Zhou about his experience of life in China after lockdown. Here, Sean offers some insight and advice for those still living under heavy restrictions.
I still remember the day when the government announced the complete lockdown of the city of Wuhan, and then the whole of the Hubei province. Soon after, other provinces and cities followed a similar policy, and everyone was ordered to stay at home and quarantine, initially for 14 days.
It was a strange situation. Perhaps the most worrying period in my life. Everything happened so quickly, with the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 coming just before Chinese New Year when we would usually be celebrating with our families and loved ones.
Fortunately, a lot of people had already traveled back to their hometowns, otherwise the situation might have been worse. Most people had also bought lots of food and water because the shops were due to be closed for the holiday anyway. This helped my family get through the first two weeks, though I do recall the price of vegetables at the market increased ten-fold before eventually stabilizing after the holiday, when the supermarkets reopened.
We didn’t have any toilet paper shortages like other countries have had, but we couldn’t buy any masks because the shops had sold out and the factories were shut. Our team in Wuhan helped some of our customers get masks and for that we continue to receive messages of thanks from them. Travelport’s corporate real estate team also sent almost 100 masks for each employee, which helped a lot.
Lifting the lockdown
Although it was tough staying inside for several months, other parts of my life have been really enriched. I read a lot of books that I planned to read last year and caught up on the movies that I’d missed. And, of course, the most important thing is that I have had plenty of time to spend with my family; playing games with my daughter and listening to her play piano more.
These days, the spread of the virus has greatly reduced. Many cities and provinces have had no reported increase in new cases for over 2 weeks. People are returning to work and, in Beijing, over 80% of enterprises have resumed regular business activities.
Parks, cafes, restaurants, and hair salons are all open and, in cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, the situation is even better than in Beijing. Some of the schools in eastern China are planning to open in April, according to local news.
A slow return to travel
The lockdown in Hubei province has also ended and people can now enter and leave the province provided they have a health certificate. The latest data from Ctrip suggests that the Chinese travel industry should also prepare for a surge in travel-related consumption from May or June as wider restrictions on travel are slowly lifted.
In China, our focus has turned to what we can do to help our colleagues and customers around the rest of the world. If there’s one thing we’ve been reminded of by the virus lockdown it’s that we are all connected, and we can’t win the battle alone. That’s why I wanted to share some survival tips for those of you who are just starting or in the middle of a lockdown.
1. Stay connected
It is important to stay connected at a time when you will probably be feeling isolated. We did this by creating groups on WeChat (the Chinese version of WhatsApp), to ensure we are all safe, have enough supplies, and to let each other know we’re together. We also received heartwarming messages from our colleagues in other teams and countries and we were so grateful for them.
2. Support each other
Try to maintain a business as usual approach as much as possible. We can do this to avoid all the distractions and negativity around us, support our friends, family, colleagues, and customers, learn about their situation, and the challenges they are facing. With the online tools and teamwork apps that Travelport has, we were able to maintain a similar level of customer service and connection with team members as we would normally have achieved.
3. Build a routine
Create a daily plan with micro-goals to keep you focused and to help you manage your time. Build in time for the hobbies you’ve been wanting to get into.
4. Avoid information overload
And remember, while it’s good to keep up to date with the latest news, be positive and make sure it doesn’t overshadow the important things in life.
There is life after lockdown, and we can overcome the challenges — even if they currently seem insurmountable.
The travel industry has been hit particularly hard as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. At Travelport, we want to ensure we’re doing all we can to help the industry through this unprecedented situation. We have created a COVID-19 travel industry response hub that is a source of information, ongoing updates and data to help your business through this difficult period.