Reflecting on March 2020: The month that changed our lives

1 April 2020

Today was rather uneventful other than the standard daily beach run, workout and trip to the shops. So I decided to focus on a slightly heavier subject – how the coronavirus pandemic changed my life (and all of our lives) in March 2020. No April foolery here I’m afraid.

A new dream job

At the start of March, I was four weeks into a new job as Head of Marketing for one of the world’s largest online cruise agencies. It was good money, a great career move for me and things were going well in the role. There was a concern that coronavirus could escalate and affect the industry, but it seemed equally as likely that cases would drop, and we’d all be wondering what the fuss was about. Overall, things at work were good. Plus, we had family over from the UK and spirits were high.

Post-work drinks with the family

An amazing family holiday

Even better – I was on holiday. We were spending 10 days exploring South Australia with my fiance, my dad and his long-term partner. On 1 March we’d just arrived on Kangaroo Island and checked into our amazing accommodation at Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas.

The local resident enjoys the view of the Lighthouse

The next ten days we lived with Kangaroos as our neighbours, snorkelled with dolphins, we drank copious amounts of delicious shiraz in Mclaren Vale and we ate our way around Adelaide. All in all, it was an amazing holiday and COVID-19, although in the news to a minor extent, was the last thing on my mind.

As of 1 March, there were circa 80,000 coronavirus cases globally and 3,000 deaths. The majority in China and some other countries in Asia including South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan. Iran had been in the news with cases spreading. Cases in Europe were still relatively few and far between – although Italy did have a concerning number of cases that were spreading quickly. Australia had just 24 cases and one death.

Then everything started to change

By the time we arrived back from South Australia on 10 March, the virus had started to escalate. Cases had rapidly spread across Europe, the Americas and throughout Asia with 119,000 cases and more than 4,300 deaths.

Australia was still largely unaffected, with circa 100 cases nationwide. But the atmosphere was totally different to when we left to go on holiday. Panic buying had ensued, the buses were empty and bars and restaurants that would usually be packed, were eerily empty.

4Pines in Manly. Usually, packed – is almost empty during happy hour

In terms of work. I was informed on my first day back in the office that over 20 employees had been let go whilst I was on annual leave. A number of global travel restrictions were now in place and the travel industry was suffering significantly with consumers too nervous to travel. The cruise industry especially was in tatters with an increasing number of high profile instances of COVID-19 on cruise ships. As the newest member of the team I sensed the end was nigh.

I lost my job on 17 March due to the impact of the coronavirus on the cruise industry. I was one of 28 let go. My fiance lost her job as an Events Manager the day before – no events, equals no jobs in events.

At this stage cases had exploded. There were nearly 200,000 cases globally and nearly 8,000 deaths. Cases in Australia started to increase rapidly, with around 500 confirmed nationwide at the time.

The ‘New Normal’

Fast forward another two weeks and the world we live in today is significantly different to the one we lived in at the start of March. We’re now just days away from one million cases of COVID-19 globally and the virus has killed more than 42,000 people.

Coronavirus has changed the world we live in as we know it. It has devastated the economy – causing thousands of businesses to close and millions of workers to lose their jobs. It has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide and has the entire world living in fear.

Life has changed for us all. No bars, no restaurants, no group gatherings. Minimal employment opportunities. We can no longer leave the house other than for emergencies. We can’t meet up with friends. We can’t go on holiday. We can’t go to festivals. No toilet roll (shock horror).

Personally, the lack of income is certainly a huge concern. But my biggest worry is definitely for my family overseas. The thought of not being able to travel to see them under any circumstances is hard to fathom.

There’s no doubt that during March 2020, coronavirus has changed all of our lives.

All we can do is stay positive, take each day as it comes and look after each other.

But who knows what April 2020 will hold…

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