I'm an American who's been living in Spain the last nine years. I'm now a permanent resident with no intention of returning to live in the US. I love my life here, and my work as an English teacher.
Last Friday at midnight, my state in Spain, Cantabria, was forced into total confinement, or total isolation, or quarantine, or shelter-in-place. The rest of Spain followed suit the following day. While my language academy has put our English classes online, many people are suddenly without work for an unknown period of time. People are allowed to go to their workplaces, but everything in the service and retail industry has been shut down by the government. In a country whose economy is largely based on the tourism and hospitality sectors, this has had a huge and immediate impact.
But translating all the news here to my friends and family stateside, where I couldn't even go if I wanted to right now, has proved to be an interesting predicament, as there seems to be no official consensus on the term to use for this forced staycation. I have recently seen San Francisco and NYC refer to it as shelter-in-place, while other terms could be total isolation, quarantine, or total confinement. To be honest, shelter-in-place makes me feel like I'm either about to be bombed or that I'm about to experience an earthquake, neither of which sounds too appealing. Total isolation makes me feel an intense need for human contact. Even introverts like me still have a very human need for physical contact, although for us, best kept to a minimum and with a very close circle of people. Quarantine I think should be reserved for the medical use of the word, when someone actually has COVID-19 or needs to self-quarantine due to close contact with someone infected. That leaves me with total confinement, which I guess given my reasoning for not wanting to use the other terms, is the best option, at least for me. Yes, it refers to being totally confined to a space, but I must say, it's not the worst thing in the world being confined in an apartment with a sea and mountain view.
Whatever you call it, it basically means that you can't leave your home, except for the following situations (at least in Spain):
2. To take out the trash/rubbish
6. To go to work (if your workplace is open)
7. To help elderly, ill, and disabled people (either as your profession or as a caring family member or friend)
8. Other extenuating circumstances (a funeral in another town, for example, which itself would have restrictions).
Today I REALLY needed to take out the trash and the recycling, and lucky for me, it wasn't raining (where I live is quite similar weather-wise to Seattle). When I got downstairs, I noticed the military further down my street. Now Spain doesn't have the same government system as the US, being a constitutional monarchy, but it is a democratic country. Never in a million years would I have imagined the military standing guard in the street outside of an actual war between countries. I wasn't necessarily scared, but it made me realize the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, and how we really do need to be doing our part to aid in the containment of the virus.
So call it what you want, but if your government asks you to avoid leaving your house, please listen. It is for the good of all of us, across the globe, in this global effort to contain this new virus.
P.S. Please leave some food and toilet paper in the supermarkets for us disabled people, who physically can't go from store to store looking for one measly package of TP. Muchas gracias.