When Coronavirus Lockdown Extensions Hit You Harder than Expected

When Coronavirus Lockdown Extensions Hit You Harder than Expected

QUITE NERVOUS, I was added into another group chat exclusive to all regular and three-year probationary teacher employees, as it was named. As soon as everybody seemed in attendance, the department head then dropped the bomb — our privilege paychecks are until this mid-May only (less the charged five-day leave credits), and if ever the lockdown wouldn’t be lifted soon, we would no longer be receiving any regular paychecks for the end of the month onwards, rather fractions of our 13th month pay.

It’s all understandable given the current financial state of the school, as almost all business entities have shuttered, but it really saddens me thinking about what personal economic downturns await us all beyond the extension of the lockdown — a highly probable bad news in the coming days.

How It Really Feels. Others, who do not have the same work status as ours, have been financially struggling already for a month or so, and I know not what they’ve been doing to make ends meet. Now I should say that it’s no longer just saddening, rather frightening.

In early April, I had a sense of relief getting informed that I’d still receive my regular paychecks for the coming paydays amidst the halt of school operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I was thankful I had the regular work status before the outbreak. If not, I would’ve been given right away a third of my 13th month pay and been shortlisted for the DOLE social amelioration program, which soon we learned did not materialize due to the shortage of government funds. Bottom line, no teacher in the school, outside of the regular or probationary work status, received such a cash assistance from the government after getting furloughed from work.

What Lies Ahead. It’s either that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), aka lockdown, would be lifted next week with the general community quarantine (GCQ) in force, or there would be another fifteen days or more of an extension.

While at least we could get back to work and make some living with the first option, the other but would force us either to stretch all available savings for the living expenses or get into further debts. The choices sound simple, but not the real costs of whichever is decided.

What Hits Harder. I see that living within means is no doubt the ultimate solution when there are still regular bimonthly paychecks (even with cuts) coming into the account, or at least there is something to stretch for the household budget amidst the increased spending particularly on food and utilities.

Without these however, savings and all emergency funds will be inevitably touched for the purpose, and should there be more lockdown extensions, getting into debts can be the last resort, that is if there are still those who can afford without strict payment and interest terms.

In summary, these mandatory lockdown extensions, as caused by our failure to flatten the coronavirus curve over the past quarantine months, hit us harder than what we expected. In plain sight, businesses have shuttered operations and suffered significant losses that cause mass layoffs and furloughs. More serious than first thought, personal economic downturns await us at the end of the road, and just thinking about these brings worries and fears.

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