In March 2020, our lives were turned upside down overnight as nonessential stores, restaurants, and schools shut down due to COVID-19. Now, in the fall of 2020, businesses have reopened, restaurants have more capacity, and students are attending class in school. But will it last? No matter if you believe COVID-19 is serious or think it is blown out of proportion, you need to prepare for the possibility of another shutdown.
Based on what’s currently happening in Europe and the results of the U.S. election, there is a strong possibility that Americans may face another shutdown come January 20, 2021 – potentially an even stricter shutdown than what we experienced in the spring. One of the presidential candidates has already assembled a panel of 13 COVID-19 advisors. One of the influential members on November 10th called for a U.S. national lockdown lasting up to six weeks.
We are being put on notice. When top government officials say, "is the time to do what you're told," the message couldn't be more loud and clear what's coming.
As of post time, several countries in Europe have instituted a second more comprehensive shutdown. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Magazine, “Two months ago, as numbers began to creep up after a blissful summer lull, countries still held out hope that more limited, targeted measures could prevent a second wave. Now, that wave is here, with the force of a tsunami. Europe has surpassed the United States in cases per capita; last week, it accounted for half of the more than 3 million cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).”
As a result of the sharp increase in cases, several European countries have implemented strict second shutdowns. Here is a sample of second lockdown rules from a recent, BBC news report:
- France - People are allowed to leave their homes only to go to work (if they cannot work from home) to buy essential goods, seek medical help, or exercise for one hour a day. Anyone going outside has to carry a written statement justifying their journey. All nonessential shops, restaurants, and bars are shut, but schools remain open. Social gatherings are banned.
- Germany - Cinemas, theatres, gyms, pools, and saunas, as well as restaurants and bars, are closed, except for takeaway. Social contacts are limited to 2 households with a maximum of 10 people. Large events are canceled, and no crowds are allowed at sporting events. Overnight stays in hotels for leisure purposes are banned.
- Italy - Museums, gyms, swimming pools, theatres, and cinemas are closed. There is a curfew from 22:00 to 05:00. During these hours people can leave their homes only for work, medical reasons, or emergencies. Weddings, baptisms, and funeral gatherings are banned. The country is also divided into zones. Red zones have to close all but essential businesses.
- Spain - People will have to stay at home between 23:00 and 06:00. The only permitted journeys are going to work, buying medicine, or caring for elderly people or children. Public and private gatherings are limited to 6 people. These rules are in effect until May 2021.
- Belgium - All nonessential shops and businesses offering personal services such as hairdressing are closed. All bars, cafes, and restaurants are also closed, but they can offer takeaway services until 22:00. Working from home is mandatory for everyone who can do so. Groups meeting outside are limited to 4 people. Gyms, pools, and other cultural and leisure facilities are closed.
- Netherlands - Bars, restaurants, and coffee shops can only serve takeaways. Public meetings of more than 2 people from different households are banned and museums, theatres, cinemas, zoos, and amusement parks are ordered to close.
- Czech Republic - Services, schools, and shops (except those selling essential supplies) are closed. People are not able to leave their homes unless they are going to work, making essential family visits, exercising, buying food or medicine, or seeking medical help.
Yes, that is Europe, but Americans should prepare for similar second shutdowns to come our way.
Will North America follow Europe?
In September, Joe Biden told World News Tonight anchor, David Muir, that he would shut down the country if scientists advised him to.
Biden later clarified, “There's going to be no need, in my view, to be able to shut down the whole economy […] I got asked by David Muir a question, if I was asked to shut everything down. I took that as a generic question if -- am I going to follow the science? I am going to insist, and I insist now, without any authority, that every responsible person in this country, when they're out in public or not, with the cohort that they have lived with -- because they know they haven't spread it to their husband, wife, etc. -- that they wear a mask."
However, since America’s pandemic has followed Europe since the beginning, it seems likely that scientists, experts, or advisors may advise the President that there is a need to shut down again. If that President is Biden, Americans may be looking at a lengthy quarantined Dark Winter.
Moreover, America, like the rest of the world, has struggled to control COVID-19. Until more effective systems are put in place, we are at risk of a winter surge in the U.S. as well. Therefore, it is wise to prepare today for the possibility of a second nationwide shutdown tomorrow. Fortunately, we can take the lessons we learned from the first shutdown to prepare better this time around.
Practice common sense and basic preparedness
In the spring, there was a lot of panic and fear surrounding the virus and the quarantine. That was understandable because it was a first-time event for most Americans. However, this time around, we have a better idea of what to expect. We know that we don’t need to hoard hand sanitizer. Instead, we use common sense by washing our hands regularly with soap and water and disinfecting the frequently touched surfaces in our homes and businesses. We know to avoid people who appear sick.
Similarly, instead of panic buying toilet paper, we can prepare more calmly. Any survivalist knows the keys to basic preparedness. These same basics apply to a mandatory shutdown:
- Stock emergency food and water
- Keep your gas tank at least half full
- Get prescriptions filled on time
- Have cash
- Fill your first aid kit
These emergency preparedness basics should guide you daily – including when preparing for a shutdown.
Prepare for financial setbacks now
One of the hardest lessons we learned from the spring shutdown is that our jobs aren’t quite as secure as we thought. While the economy is recovering, the pandemic shutdown forced 22 million Americans to file for unemployment. Unfortunately, some of the companies forced to perform mass layoffs have not recovered and will only suffer more if we face a second shutdown. Since we know job loss is a real possibility, we need to prepare financially. Now is the time to start saving money and boosting your emergency fund.
Get to where you want to be before it’s too late
In Europe, different countries are enforcing strict border controls to prevent the virus from spreading. In the United States, we still have states, such as Alaska and Connecticut, that have COVID-19 travel restrictions, such as requiring out-of-state visitors to have negative tests and practice strict social distancing upon arrival. The idea of border control may spread throughout the rest of the country depending on their newly elected government officials.
Therefore, if it is at all possible, you should make plans to get where you want to be before it is too late. For example, if you live and work remotely in Florida, but you have family in Georgia you want to quarantine with, make plans now.
Make improvements to your home office today
At this point, many people are still working remotely. However, if you have gone back to the office, you should prepare to work remotely again. Think about what made working at home difficult in the spring and find ways to make improvements. Think long-term. A comfortable office chair may be worth the investment.
Similarly, if you are a parent of kids in school, prepare for them to return to remote learning. We are already hearing reports of schools in the U.S. that have returned to remote learning indefinitely in Minnesota and New Jersey. When schools closed overnight in March, it was a nightmare for parents. It will be difficult this time around, too, but make improvements to your child’s learning space that will make it a little easier, such as a new computer.
TIP – Invest in noise-canceling headphones.
Shop less and shop wiser
In the spring, did you actually know anyone who ran out of toilet paper? For whatever reason, Americans were very worried about toilet paper. Looking back on it, was that really worth our time? What would have been a better use of our time and energy?
If we end up in a second shutdown or lockdown, shop less and shop wiser. For instance, instead of hoarding paper supplies, wash the dishes, or do laundry. Pay attention to supply and demand where it matters to your household. For example, some products are still facing shortages (such as disinfecting wipes). Since you know disinfecting is important, purchase these when you see them, but don’t panic if they are out of stock. Be resourceful and use household products to make your own cleaning supplies (such as baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar).
Don’t panic shop and buy things you don’t need. During the spring shutdown, there was a run on yeast. If you use yeast, stock up now. If you never use it, then there is no reason to start buying it. Likewise, use wisdom when shopping. It is wise to invest in a long-term emergency food supply kit. It is unwise to fill your fridge with food that will spoil before you eat it.
Buy what you need to enjoy a long winter indoors
Another lesson we learned in the spring is that it is important to find ways to stay busy at home. Outdoor gear, such as bikes and swimming pools, sold out online and in big-box stores as families looked for ways to stay entertained. With the possibility of a second shutdown occurring during the winter, this is even more important. Items like outdoor heaters and fireplaces will sell out as people try to stay outdoors into the winter months.
Know what to do and where to go if COVID-19 hits close to home
At this point, we all know the symptoms of COVID-19. However, many people don’t know what to do if they suspect they have it or have been exposed to the virus. Since the number of cases is increasing and the possibility of exposure is greater, take time to research what to do if exposed, such as contacting your insurance company to see what type of COVID-19 testing is covered, setting up a telehealth account with your medical provider, getting directions to testing centers, and verifying employment guidelines for exposure.
Rest in knowledge
There is some good news. According to ABC News, “As the United States braces itself for a likely ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 this fall, many experts are anticipating a spike in cases -- but some say that may not translate into an equally dramatic spike in deaths.” The biggest lesson learned from the first shutdown is how to treat the virus. Doctors have learned which medications and techniques work best to help people combat the virus. As a result, while cases are on the rise, fewer people are dying from the virus.
Don’t panic. Stay alert. And prepare, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply