Wilderness DiaryDiary of European Wilderness Society Volunteers
Sports fields are open again on the one in Tamsweg offers a unique view

A turbulent start to the Covid-19 lockdown

Jonas Sommer

Last time you heard from us, the world was still a different one. We were in the midst of the skiing saison, the busiest time of the year in the Lungau. We enjoyed the slopes, great weather and busyness that the tourists bring with them.

Until the beginning of March, we thought we would have a regular winter. That would mean skiing until easter, going to the office almost every day and enjoying the first signs of spring together. As you can read in my last post, I had big plans for March. But as you know, everything turned out very differently. First, life turned even more eventful with new infos and regulations about the Covid-19 outbreak almost every day. Then, life became rather monotonous after Austria went into lockdown.

Read more about how our other volunteer Ziva and the rest of the team experienced the lockdown.

Italy went into lockdown due to Covid-19 on 9th March. That was when we realized that the situation is serious and we have to prepare for changes in our lives. Nevertheless, I decided to go on my long-planned trip back home to Germany on Thursday, the 12th. The initial plan was that I would return by car together with my parents, who planned to spend the following week in Tamsweg. This plan seemed questionable, but possible, when I started my journey. However, only a few hours later, it had become impossible. While I was in the train – at 9 pm – the Austrian government announced that all tourist accomodations have to close and kick out all guests within four days. This also included the shut down of ski resorts and hence the immediate stop of the skiing saison.

An adventurous weekend

So, my first task at home was to figure out a way to get back to Tamsweg. Luckily, trains were still running on a normal schedule and I could book a ticket for Sunday. I then spend the weekend filling up on social contact, which turned out to be very helpful for what was to come. On Sunday morning at 7 am, I entered the train with my old bike – I broke my ‘new’ bike last year. Only three hours later, the Austrian government announced that the country would go into shutdown almost immediately. The rest of the journey I and everyone else involved spent wondering whether I would smoothly make it to Austria. I did!

Since then, the whole team has been working from home. Which is even weirder in a small place like Tamsweg, because we all live within 10 min of walking to each other and the office. But we still were not allowed to see each other for almost two months until Covid-19 was under control in Austria. At least we had a team meeting on Zoom three times a week, but that just is not the same.

The ups and downs of the Covid-19 lockdown

At least this gave me the chance to adapt my working schedule to my biological clock. My mornings turned later and my evenings longer. However, that turned out to be slippery slope as borders between work and free time grew more blurry. For sure the biggest advantage of this more flexible schedule was that I could squeeze in workouts and exercise at any time of the day. My garden turned into my personal gym and the meadow across the street into a sports field. I also saw more of the direct surroundings of Tamsweg than in the in the eight months before. Runs and bike rides were allowed, long hikes and tours discouraged. But with the steep mountains all around, an hour is more than enough to reach your limit.

So, when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased in the beginning of May, I was relieved all in all. Part of our team spent the lockdown giving our office a make-over and ‘corona-proofing’ it, so we were allowed to return to the office on 4th May. Of course there are still limitations. The amount of people in the office is limited, we have to keep distance and sanitize everything regularly. But life definitely seems a bit more normal again.

The only thing that will hopefully stay is that I can squeeze a workout outside into my work day from time to time.

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