I have received many emails from our friends and clients who have family in Ukraine. They are asking how things are going here now, and some are worried since they stopped hearing from their relatives. We’ve been trying to help, and I have also decided to write a note to explain what life is like today to those who may have the same questions. While it appears that quarantine restrictions may be partially lifted on May 22, the following describes the situation to date.
Firstly, you can get Ukraine COVID-19 live updates, for example, here .
507 new cases, 13 deaths, 299 recovered on May 6, 2020. The total number of cases is 13 691 and the total number of deaths is 340. Chernivtsi Oblast (province), Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast are among the highest. The daily number of new cases has been about 400-550 for quite a while.
Things are not that bad compared to many other countries, as you can see, especially taking into account the fact that 140,000 (or about that) Ukrainians returned home from Europe (including Italy) about a month ago and could be potential carriers. Another concern was the Easter holiday and the holiday church masses. We are all used to spending Easter celebrating together with families and friends. Anyway, the government introduced the quarantine early in March as soon as the 1st case was detected. What is going on today?
Most border crossing points are closed. Public transport is not working. It is a big problem for those who have to commute to work. There are no restrictions regarding traveling by car though. Only some towns or villages where the virus has spread are closed. There are also check points where they register you and check your body temperature before letting you in to some towns/cities. The petrol stations are open. They will fill up your gas tank for you and I also saw a sales assistant bringing coffees out for the customers at some of them. You do not have to walk in to pay for fuel if you use their apps.
All educational institutions are closed and centralized online tuition for state secondary school pupils has been organized by the ministry of education. Primary school teachers are supposed to organize it by themselves and it is a challenge for many parents too, including us. It is also a big problem for village kids where the modern technologies are still not used on a full scale. Many kids treat it as additional holidays although they have to stay inside. University students study online as well.
Restaurants and shops
Restaurants and cafes are all closed. Many have concentrated on delivery services to survive. Most shops but for supermarkets and grocery shops are closed. There was a lot of panic once the lockdown was introduced. People rushed out to buy food. This reaction is enrooted here pretty well. At some stage the shelves were empty but the supply is good today and you can buy most of the food you need in the supermarkets. Anything else is available online. I can often see lines (the distance is kept) waiting in front of the shops to get in since the number of visitors is limited. Some supermarkets have special hours for elderly people only. I have also seen advertisments of a group of volunteers offering assistance with shopping. I try to do shopping late in the evening or go to a 24-hour supermarket at night to avoid lines, which is not an option for people living in the village.
Restrictions and Regulations
Wearing a mask or a respirator is obligatory in public places. It is forbidden to visit children’s playgrounds and stadiums to do sports. Everybody has to have an ID with them and it is forbidden to walk in a group of more than 2 people. It is forbidden to visit the parks but for walking the dogs. Children younger than 14 are to be outside with the parents only. People that cross the border have to spend 14 days in isolation. 7000-51000UAH (about 600-1700EUR) fines apply.
Moods and Attitudes
I called 84 year old Marta living in a distant village to say hello from her Canadian family yesterday and ask how things are going. Marta is worried about the virus a lot because she saw scary news on TV. She lives with her grandson since her son and daughter-in-law got locked in Czech Republic where they went to do some seasonal work to earn their living. They cannot come home now. Marta says she knows a young man who died of COVID 19 in a neighboring village and she’s scared. The grandson does the minimum shopping for what they need. Marta does not need much since they grow vegetables and keep chicken and pigs. Her life today does not differ from what it was like before the epidemic much.
The situation is about the same with other families and older people who I have been in touch with. No need to say that things are not good and many people have lost jobs, including those who worked in the European Union. Many will have no means to live and some businesses won’t last if the lockdown is prolonged. However, everybody is used to living in a situation when they lack safety and it is hard to predict tomorrow. The majority are finding their way through the situation and are waiting for better times. I would say that despite the fact that the situation is abnormal, there is no feeling of a catastrophe or depression.
There are many volunteers who help the hospitals to organize the supply of equipment and charities to buy automatic ventilation machines.
I would say there are 2 general groups: those who care and try to be safe and those who just pretend they obey because they have to. Probably the same as elsewhere. The general impression is that the ratio is 50/50. Traditionally, every regulation that has been imposed by the government in Ukraine is perceived in a negative way. It is our Soviet heritage.
Many are getting tired with all the prevention issues today and are starting to pay less attention to safety. I can often see people wearing masks on the chin instead of putting them on properly.
Regarding those who do not care
Yesterday I saw 2 young mothers on the street with children and strollers. They were wearing masks but they took them off to hug and give a hello kiss to each other. Wow! I know those who do not believe in the virus and say that it is just a fake situation that was organized and people die of flu anyway. I can see the police are not paying much attention to those who break the lockdown rules in the parks. It was pretty strict at the beginning and they patrolled the parks well. Now they do not care much. I have even seen a wedding couple with bridesmaids who went to have a photo session last Sunday.
Those who care
Those who care are just “boring” guys. We just wear masks and wash hands. Unfortunately (and fortunately too), we do not kiss on the streets. Yet. No sense talking about us, LOL.
These are just my personal observations and I live in a town of 35 000 people. Any other person from Ukraine will tell you a story that is similar to mine but still different. We all hope things will get better and we are getting ready for it.
Take care and stay safe!