Prof. Ahmad Y. Majdoubeh
The Friday lockdown: In many ways a blessing
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As to its impact on curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this is a matter better left to the experts, as it needs reliable studies and impeccable evidence.

 

By logical deduction, however, one can safely infer that since many large gatherings traditionally happen on Fridays, the absence of such gatherings due to the lockdown definitely prevents more contact and therefore more infections.

But several other side benefits are important.

 

One is related to the fact that family members get to spend more time together. Due to so many obligations and due to the absence of the daily routine that governed life in the country for so many decades, family members have increasingly over the past few years been spending less time together.

 

Once upon a time, families throughout the country were in the habit of having the three daily meals together: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, it was extremely uncommon, even sacrilegious, for a family member to miss a meal with the family.

 

Recently, however, and due to the change of life’s rhythm and to individuals’ discrepant study or work schedules, rarely do family members have even one daily meal together. Most of the time, every man or woman for themselves.

 

The lockdown on Friday has brought back this good habit, where nearly all family members have the three Friday meals together: Sitting at the dining table and chatting like in the good old days.

 

Another benefit is the peace and quiet which our neighbourhoods used to have in past times but which were lost with the tremendous population increase, with the increase of vehicles big and small, and with the increase of the general hustle and bustle emanating from all sorts of Friday activities.

 

During the lockdown, movement of vehicles is almost completely halted, aside from those with permits, and people are allowed one hour to walk to the mosques for prayers. As a result, the neighbourhoods have become almost free of noise pollution.

 

People who enjoy peace and quiet find Fridays so special because of this.

 

A third benefit is to the environment. Recently, abuse of the environment has been happening at unprecedented levels: Littering, fires ignited to burn garbage, vehicle fumes and smoke, etc.

 

All of this has been greatly lessened due to the lockdown; the environment is getting a break.

 

And the neighbourhood cats, birds, and trees get a breather.

 

We realise, of course, that such benefits come at a price, mainly the harm done to businesses, some of which used to sell a lot on Friday.

 

Nevertheless, two points need to be stressed here.

 

The first is that the government is mulling allowing delivery of goods and merchandise to happen on Friday. This may help the businesses somewhat, even though it will be at the expense of some peace and quiet.

 

The second is that in many countries, including capitalist countries to which business is essential for prosperity, businesses close on Sunday, which is equivalent to our Friday. The idea being that people can plan their shopping during other days, and they can therefore do without shopping on Sunday.

 

We can do the same.

 

Lockdown Fridays are a blessing in many ways to many, and many of us wish the lockdown to be enforced for the longest time possible, if only for the peace and quiet, but perhaps with an ease on pedestrian freedom of movement.

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