Across Europe, there will be many people celebrating the easing of coronavirus lockdowns this week.
For many of those who do not have the privilege of living in a safe home, the last two months of lockdown have been very challenging, and in some cases a dangerous nightmare, while others have found the threat of contracting the virus or the risk to their families a source of anxiety and stress.
But among those lucky enough to have a roof over their heads, some people have found comfort in lockdown, which allowed them to explore new passions, work more freely and spend more time with their families.
This week, Euronews asked viewers and readers what they will miss about lockdown as restrictions are removed and people begin to navigate a new normal.
Reduction in commute time
Kostas Antoniou, 35, who works in finance in London, does not miss the 45-minute commute on packed trains to get to work every morning.
During rush hour, Antoniou sometimes has to wait hours before he can get on a train due to overcrowding.
The lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom also mean that he gets to see his partner more frequently.
Antoniou was not alone: Euronews had many responses from readers and viewers who did not miss the morning commute.
“Quiet roads saving 2 hours a day to and from work… BLISSSSS,” commented Facebook user Nick Madrek.
As for working from home, Antoniou says he is more efficient.
“Everything works perfectly in my company by working from home. Just proves that we don’t need an office especially in central London,” Antoniou added.
“At the office there is just too much noise from other workers, chatting laughing… I can’t concentrate the same.”
Clean air, birds and new hobbies
Shortly after coronavirus restrictions were put in place, many people began to notice the sounds of nature in cities normally deafened by traffic.
João Ricardo is a 47-year-old musician living in Porto, Portugal which has been under coronavirus restrictions since March 18.
He says that there have been a lot of benefits to come from the movement restrictions in Portugal, notably the calm and a reduction in pollution. “The clear fluffy cloud formations, the vibrant colours in the sky, and hearing the birds which had been silenced by the traffic”.
Ricardo has also developed some new hobbies while stuck at home: “I started growing some vegetables in the backyard and I’m really enjoying it, I think I’ll stick to that from now on”.
He says the lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes he has grown are much better than the supermarket can offer.
Many social media users said that they enjoyed the silence outside and the ability to see more of nature.
“I am not wasting my time on commute, outside there’s mostly silence, only the birds and the occasional car,” Facebook user Simone Ristori commented.
Twitter user Helen Corvus tweeted: “the silence and peaceful floating along with my thoughts while having no obligations at all.”
More time to spend with family
“I’ll miss spending time with my son, talking, cooking and watching films together,” said 33-year-old Raphaela Boghi who works at a train station in Bristol.
“I’ll miss having time to think without the stress of all the activities and obligations I have in ‘normal’ life.”
The United Kingdom has been locked down since late March and is not yet expected to lift restrictions.
Boghi added that she enjoys riding her bike in empty streets and reading all the books that she’s had on her list.
At the same time, Boghi says she knows that she is very privileged to still have her salary while working on a reduced schedule.
“I feel anguished about the current situation, feel compassion for people suffering and struggling with their health and feel angry with politicians using this moment with their personal agendas,” Boghi added, but said she enjoys the “quiet of the streets” and the “new way we’re connecting to people”.
She’s not the only one stating that they’ve connected with people they hadn’t heard from in a while as others check in on how everyone is doing.
Twitter user @probablywilltoo summed up feeling a new attitude in a response to our call for comments, stating: “I have noted markedly increased kindness and courtesy towards others when out from #lockdown for shopping or exercise; smiles are more readily exchanged and a sense of community and neighbourly care has come to the fore.”
Family, community, environment
“I found myself thinking of this coming to an end and being rather glum,” says Giles Anderson, a 45-year-old picture editor from London.
“My wife and I are now directly responsible for our children’s schooling. I get to see what children are learning and hear it because their ‘classrooms ‘ are two rooms away. I can look at what they are learning and talk to them about it. In the early evening, I go for a walk around the field with them, they have a race to the back gate and then the eldest two have five minutes to score ten goals under a bench with me as goalkeeper. I don’t really want to swap that for an expensive, sweaty commute to a central London office that I have spent a month demonstrating that I don’t have to be in to be effective.”
But it’s not just the nuclear family that associates in an improved way, according to Anderson. The differences are further reaching into the community.
And wider still.
“We now get a vegetable delivery every two weeks from a local farm and a meat delivery from a local butcher. I want to carry on giving them my money rather than the giant supermarkets.”
“When this is over and we talk about the environment, how will we have the nerve to suggest that we cannot make large scale changes. We have shown that in a month we can transform our existence and I hope some of that sticks.”