Quarantine questions and quandaries-June 10, 2021

I ended my 14-day quarantine, today, after day 10; we returned to the island on May 30. I hope that won’t cause drama with our DRMA. A few things went into my actions. First, there’s no hard and fast rules about COVID quarantine duration, and countries have opted for what makes sense to them, politically, with some medical concerns. CDC guidelines say 7-14 days is the window to consider.

So, we first had a quandary at the weekend, because we had the chance to get our 2nd vaccine, a week early. So, should be break quarantine for that? Yes. We would have had this same issue this coming Saturday, our due date, which would have been day 13. We’ve isolated at home and all the main protocols are still part of our routines–masks, distancing, sanitisation. Quarantine didn’t change that; we even had some days of partial isolation at home, apart from our housekeeper, who hadn’t travelled.

Next, we thought about why and where we break quarantine, formally. Well, my plan was to be walking on the golf course, which is social distance heaven, with mask-wearing as needed.

I’d had a real concern about going to the golf course, earlier, in the quarantine period, simply considering whether I might have compromised someone had some misadventure befallen me.

Quarantine is about self-discipline, and many just have not bothered. Our rules are that you commit to it when you get authorisation, but there’s no way to monitor it. At earlier stages, people had to sign a contract that they’d be in quarantine and we also tried some ‘geo-tagging’ through mobile phones. That seemed less likely to work because the loopholes were obvious. Some countries in Asia had gone for armbands or other forms of real geotagging. But, that takes a lot of resources to implement.

Some countries have enforced quarantine in designated facilities, eg hotels in Canada for C$2000. In Jamaica, we did that in 2020, using some of our hotels. Some people bridled at various aspects of the process.

Confinement isn’t a normal part of human life and when it’s imposed, not voluntary, our mental resistance tends to be greater; no surprise. But, in reality, for most of the time, quarantine, for us, hasn’t been much different from the rest of time during COVID, besides not leaving the house to do routine things like shopping. My wife has the online grocery ordering off-pat. We live in an area where our favourite ice cream now comes from a roaming truck and its chimes are one of the major pluses of #COVID19Life. We have people come to the house and all is done at a distance and with masks. Some friends came for mangoes and collected the bagful left for them then stayed for a chat, 4 metres apart.

Like most of the restrictions, it’s not so hard if you’re living conditions are not a big constraint. We have space and a range of options; we could have a party, socially-distanced without much issue, besides agreed numbers. But, I pity those whose living conditions are not so easy. That’s an issue not so well-addressed in Jamaica, in part, because we don’t have many real options for people to recreate outside their homes besides being on the street. It’s quite different if you live in London and have some of the world’s best urban parks. It can be fixed, in part, but needs thinking through, like all things.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)