Czech Republic Magazine

Quarantine diaries: “It’s amazing to see how Czechs are helping each other out”

Welcome to Kafkadesk’s Quarantine Diaries, our new segment gathering testimonials from across Central Europe to understand how people in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic are living through the unfolding coronavirus crisis and, maybe, give you some comfort to show you you’re not alone in this ordeal. Today, 44-year-old Jana from the Czech Republic shares her story. czechs quarantine

I am a Czech citizen living in Prague. For me, the situation doesn’t have a huge impact on my life as I am used to work from home. If it happened 15 years ago, I would have been devastated (pubs! people! friends! parties!), but as I got older and had some health issues in the past seven years – I had to undergo a cancer treatment from 2013 to 2018 – I’m actually sort of trained for this.

Czechs show solidarity and creativity under quarantine

It’s amazing to see how Czechs are helping each other out (making face masks at home and giving them away). Our municipality started delivering meals to the elderly, and the e-shops sell food staples and are reacting quite quickly to the whole situation, so there isn’t really any shortage, apart from foodstuff that are not absolutely necessary (the shop may be out of chicken one day, for example, but you can have tofu instead…).

I have no idea whether this will get worse, but I hope not. What’s also impressive is the creative use of scuba masks and 3D prints of medical equipment. Czechs are pretty creative so these things make me believe the situation will be somehow bearable. I’m also hoping that all these nice small shops and businesses impacted by the lockdown will find a way to survive and pull through this crisis.

I’m trying to do my bit by sharing information on online activities and fundraisers at (Against the Grey), a website that I run. I’m never bored in general, and right now I have more work than usual anyway. Seeing as we mostly do articles on arts and culture and that everyone is now streaming or adapting to other online formats and activities, they’re asking us to cover that. So instead of concerts, we feature online content, give tips on which books to download or which rap documentaries to watch, etc. But I barely have time to read or re-read the books we’re recommending!

Jana started sewing even “before it was cool”.

Apart from this, I also do radio work (I’ve been broadcasting on Prague’s Radio 1 since 1993), am devising a scheme to pre-record a talk-show as we speak, as well as pre-recording some shows then broadcast by the radio, all available on my MixCloud. I’m also working on a book, but that’s more of a long-term project.

Sharing good deeds amidst coronavirus crisis

I’m expecting much lower earnings though. There are things I cannot do that affect my work situation and income: no radio shows at the actual radio, no DJ gigs, no interviews or meetings with clients, etc. Our website is powered by advertisement from people in charge of theatres, concerts, festivals and so on, and as soon as the situation escalated, some of them told us they didn’t have any money. Hopefully it will still be ok. As a freelancer, I’m used to experiencing huge fluctuations in income.

To relax I generally knit, a much beloved hobby of mine, but paradoxically I almost don’t have a lot of time for that right now. I still miss wandering around and going to cafes, but not that terribly. It brings me joy to share information and news about people helping each other under quarantine, and see how many Czechs are doing volunteer work now. It really feels good to share information about good deeds.

I also hope that the time when I’ll be able to go out without a mask and attend a concert, or just shop without observing who has a cough, is not too far away.

Stay tuned for more of our ongoing quarantine diaries segment, Central Europe edition!

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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