Life in Beijing (now) 65 Days and Counting During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Part 4

Getting Back to Work, and Miscellaneous

For my next post examining my personal experience and knowledge of what has been going on here in Beijing during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, my scope now reaches a bit further beyond my immediate 2-3 block radius. It’s a brief post compared to my others and I’ll likely find other shorter observations similar to this. First, Natalie had to make a brief trip to her company’s office building not far from our apartment. Some pictures and observations she had were interesting and may lend insights about the procedures taken in the city at large as work crawls back to normalcy. Also, I’ll include a few miscellaneous observations I had trouble fitting in elsewhere.

Keep in mind, Beijing hasn’t developed into a major hotspot like Wuhan, Northern Italy, and now New York. Even if official numbers here are reported low, it can’t be orders of magnitude larger given the actions I observe personally. However, the precautions are part of the social armor that has inhibited the attack by the viral predator. As always, my hope is that these observations provide insight into how your own unique surroundings can better cope with the spread of the insidious COVID-19 virus.

Like any other major city, many Beijingers work in high-rise office buildings. With how this virus spreads, I was worried as more of the work spaces began to be reopened and active. Natalie has put off going to work because of a lack of necessity, but intermittently does small tasks. The job is still there should she choose to return. Recently she went to visit the offices of her private dance school company nearby the location of our local mall. She returned with some interesting pictures and observations. Regardless of political or ideological considerations, it seems that many of these could be implemented in a common sense way to mitigate the economic impact while maintaining some social protection once normalcy inches back in increments.

First, of all the entrances to the building, only one is accessible. This means anybody going in or out is funneled to where the building authorities can manage traffic and ensure compliance with necessary protections and screening.

Actually the door for her company offices, but looks exactly the same at the entrances for outside.

As you approach that sole entrance, taped markers on the brick pavement indicate spaces to stand during high volume time periods. When Natalie went it was during a down-time. Within the standing areas are labels with announcements and guidelines (see captions).

Bottom to top: “Please stay in line”, “Please wear masks”, “Don’t sneeze or cough or face each other directly”.
Lower sign is same as one in the other picture. Upper is “Please accept the temperature check”

Upon entering the main lobby, the measures are reasonably thorough. A LCD flat-screen with an infrared temperature scanner meets entrants for a streamlined temperature check. The monitor also shows the daily information for how many people have entered the building and how any showed no fever symptoms.

Natalie with a normal temperature (*phew). Top border shows 900 scanned, 900 normal temp. 0 with fever. The infrared image in the bottom right.

If it’s the first time entering the building, you must register. This is similar to the apartment community’s registration described in my second post about my surroundings. When the QR code is scanned it allows the building authorities access to the location information displayed by your phone. This tracking will allow those building officials to immediately see problematic movement history and disallow your entry. It’s likely they have to report to local officials. In exchange, you’re entering a space where the people inside have also undergone the proper screening and tracking.

Miscellaneous

This was not included in my prior posts but should have been. This notice was posted to our door very soon after the outbreak caught on mainstream and we had begun our quarantine. As I have to register with the local police department as a foreigner, my notice was specific for foreign residents.

Beijing and many Chinese metropolises host tons of expats. It was at least reassuring that some attention was diverted our way as the crisis gripped the country.
Detailed list of all available facilities, including COVID specific hospitals.

Local pharmacy featuring a stock of surgical masks. Disinfectant is seen just below the store clerk. It seems they’re allowing people in, unlike during the worst of the outbreak. Natalie says the prices are still inflated here for supplies. That mask availability of any kind is lacking in Western countries is an absolute travesty and officials up and down the strata should be held accountable. I’m nearing the point of sending masks back to family and friends because it’s so egregiously bad.

Outside our apartment with the crowded street parking situation. It also shows the delivery drivers. The blue is regular takeout and the pink behind him would be the grocery delivery with a larger container on his bike. In the foreground, a man with a typical pull-cart similar to our own. Those are a must-have for grocer trips in the local area. Additionally, just check out that guy’s mask. He’s not playing around.

Conclusion

I’ll leave you with a couple pictures of the life that is coming back here in the Beijing springtime. It’s really challenging to stay limited in going out as this time of year is so nice here. The high-water mark is hopefully not far off for Western countries and then the transition back to normalcy can begin. As it stands now, you’re not there yet. As always, count your blessings, stay safe, and pay attention to the silver linings.

Best time of the year in northern China for the blossoms. These, and other varieties, are planted on almost every street corner.

Thomas Funfsinn

March 29, 2020

1 thought on “Life in Beijing (now) 65 Days and Counting During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Part 4”

  1. Tom.
    Thanks for sharing and writing these posts. I was a neighbor if your mom growing up on Piety Hill and childhood friends. Can you send a few masks to me? We can’t find any masks anywhere. Our country leaders told us masks were not needed it didn’t make a difference, so I didn’t order any. Big mistake! Now we are left with more fear and greater possibility of contacting the virus when we have to go out. Hording supplies are happening here so if you didn’t plan early then you are now out of luck. Ordering on Amazon, the delivery dates are well into May. The masks would arrive after our curve reaches its peak. I can send you my address.
    I bet you never thought that you would be in a position of saving lives! Glad you and Natalie are ok. I look forward to reading what life is like now. What is the new normal that we go back to.
    Now you can plan for your wedding. You and your families will have lots to celebrate!

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