This line in Part II struck me hard:
“Mothers and children, lovers, husbands and wives, who had a few days previously taken it for granted that their parting would be a short one, who had kissed one another good-by on the platform and exchanged a few trivial remarks, sure as they were of seeing one another again after a few days or, at most, a few weeks, duped by our blind human faith in the near future and little if at all diverted from their normal interests by this leave-taking—all these people found themselves, without the least warning, hopelessly cut off, prevented from seeing one another again, or even communicating with one another.”Camus, A., & Gilbert, S. (1991). The Plague [E-book]. Vintage. at Part II.
The struggles here persisted during the beginning of COVID. Travel restrictions and visitation limits uniformly imposed physical separation between loved ones, when not everyone signed up or have experience in long distant relationships. On campus in March 2020, I heard and saw parents pleading and strongarming their kids back to their home country despite there not being a clear way back to campus amid the travel bans on inbound traffic to Abu Dhabi. This extended between couples too – but what we do know is that COVID raised the divorce rate for people in lockdown by a significant amount. This reminded me of what a friend recently said to me, “COVID didn’t kill relationships, it merely expedited the end for relationships that already don’t work.”
Many people found the experience of breaking up during a global health crisis a mixed bag. While the social seclusion from work responsibilities during lockdown allowed for ample space and time for healing and processing, people found themselves “to suffer the heartbreak in the same place where they experienced the good times”. The narrator didn’t really dive into the pain and desperation of the towns people at this point – but I would assume that they wouldn’t be writing positively about it.