What you should and shouldn’t do during lockdown


At Stuff, we’re all about advice. And technology and gadgets, but what we’re really good at is knowing how to use the things you have more effectively. The lowliest Android smartphone has an optimum use method and it’s not that hard to find. We just need a little time to find out the hows and whys. It’s what we do.

We’ve taken that ability/tendency/marketable skill and turned it towards the pending lockdown, which kicks off tonight — 26 March 2020 — at midnight. There are things you should be doing during the lockdown and there are things you shouldn’t be doing. We’re not listing shopping as a To-Do, though you’ll have to do that at some point when the stores refill. Because, well, that’s not something you should do at home.

Grocery shopping isn’t on this list because, boiled down to its essence, this list really only has one instruction — Stay at home. Everything around it? That’s how you make your time during lockdown a little easier, on yourself and the rest of the country.

What you should do

Stay Home

We shouldn’t even have to explain this one. The whole point of lockdown is to contain COVID-19 to specific places. If you’ve got it and you stay home, it’s not being handed around like the world’s crappiest present. If this state of affairs goes on long enough, the medical burden on the country is lessened to a point where it might actually be manageable.

The whole point is this: You’re not staying at home so that you don’t get sick. You’re staying at home so that if you’re sick, you won’t spread it to anyone else. It’s about other people. And this is the one crisis that you can actually help by sitting at home and sending out thoughts and prayers via Twitter — provided you don’t do anything other than that. COVID-19’s lockdown is an internet activist’s dream situation.


You know what keeps you healthy and boosts your immune system? Exercise. It’s also good for mental health, and we’re all going to need a little of that very shortly. While at home for your at-least-three-weeks of no human contact, it’ll pay to exercise. Bonus points if you can do it outdoors, in the sunshine, for a little while each day. It doesn’t have to be much. Ten minutes of jumping jacks on the front lawn in the sun will help you far more than six hours on the couch watching Netflix will.

Even if the neighbours think you’re a little nuts. That might even be a good thing — they’re less likely to knock on your door afterwards. Seriously, though, 30 minutes of exercise three times a week would do us all a little good — while preventing illness and helping to relieve stress. Jump rope, jog in place, do pushups, play Just Dance — the choice is yours.

Eat properly

That immune system of yours? It needs fruit and vegetables. Maybe you shouldn’t have bought all that bread and those tins — although judging by the shelves at grocery stores (yeah, we’ve been checking up on you), many of you have figured this one out. Cook your food, prepare meals, try and have something more than sugary carbohydrates for supper.

Not only will your body thank you for providing something a little healthier for it to operate on, the physical activity of making and serving food — even if it’s only for yourself — will give your brain an anchor in what are set to be some very interesting times indeed.

Work (if you can)

Something else that will give your brain an anchor is working. If you’re able to work from home, you really should be working. And not just because that’s what your boss wants. It’s tempting to skive off and treat the initial stages of lockdown as a holiday but that’s bad for everyone in the long run. You, your family, your boss, the economy, the country. If you’re able to work from home, then actually work.

There are a few ways you can be productive during this time — and we’ve got a few of them here. Plus, there will actually be an economy when we get out the other side of things. Even if it’s a little smaller than the one we had when lockdown started.

Game (online, far away from people)

Look, you’re going to need social interaction during lockdown. We’re suggesting online gaming, because it’s competitive in nature and it uses less bandwidth than video streaming does. But whatever floats your small barnyard animal, really. It could be video calls to loved ones, it could be audio chats, it could be posting in a Twitch chat window in the hopes that senpai will notice you — the point is, you need to get something social going.

Join an online forum, develop a new interest, chat to strangers on the internet (oh, if 1998 could see us now) — or do what we do and find those strangers as they’re camping in their so-called ‘hidden’ spot and pop ’em in the head. The competition will do you good, no matter whether you’re playing Apex Legends or Hearthstone.

What you shouldn’t do

Be social (physically)

Remember that bit about staying at home? It bears repeating, from the other direction. In fact, more or less everything here is just variations on the theme: STAY. AT. HOME. Specifically, here, it means don’t bloody touch anyone. It’s bad enough that you’ll touch random surfaces while out shopping for essentials (and no, Burger King isn’t essential — or even open). Touch strangers, friends, loved ones who just happened to be in the area (please don’t do that) and you’re potentially increasing COVID-19 infection rates in SA. No crowds, no queues, no public transportation if you can help it — just… don’t get close to people. If you must talk to people, do it via video or chat.

Travel to another city (yes, even you)

Again, stay at home. And not at the home you have in another city, far from the chaos that is Johannesburg. If you’re planning or, worse, have already left on a trip like this week, you’re a freaking muppet and you should feel ashamed of yourself. Why? Because you may have COVID-19 and not even know it. And if you do, and you’re wandering blithely off to some rural-ish area, and you spread the infection there, you’ve basically doomed some of the people who live near your holiday home. Medical care will be hard enough to access in the bigger cities — what chance does a small town with a clinic and a couple of doctors have? Don’t be a Typhoid Mary just because you want to look at the ocean for three weeks.

Attend church/parties/any other gatherings

Again, this boils down to not leaving the house. If you’re invited to a party, you should never speak to the idiot that invited you ever again. If you’re pressured into attending to a church service, you might as well stop attending altogether. Any place or person that attempts to enforce attendance that isn’t somehow essential to mitigating the current outbreak  a) doesn’t care about the people around it/them or b) somehow thinks it/they is/are more important than the lives of nearby people. If the previous methods taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 were working, South Africa wouldn’t be shutting down its economy. The buddy who likes to drink with friends or the pastor who really needs your donation over Easter aren’t going to help that — no matter how much hand sanitiser is at the door.

Invite people over

Don’t be this person. This person is a flipping idiot. You’re going to be lonely, you’re going to get weird, you’re going to start doing things you’ve never seen yourself do before. Ask your mates who’ve worked from home over long periods — isolation makes you odd. And while this can be mitigated by the presence of other humans, it’s a freaking bad idea right now. Cram twenty people in your house and that’s twenty potential families with COVID-19. That’s 80 people, give or take. And that’s from one gathering, that you organised. And don’t assume you’re the only one organising a get-together. As it is, cellular data will be used to see if people are gathering in large numbers. Try not to add to those stats.


About Author

Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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