Lianghan residents still disrespected, two years after the Pandemic
Zhan was checking into the hotel he had booked a room with online. The receptionist took his receipt and passport, took a good look at it, and handed both back. "I'm sorry, but I can't let you in to protect everyone else in the hotel" he says. "May I find you another place to stay?" A porter additionally brought him a pack of 5 disposable face masks, which Zhan politely declined.
The reason behind all this? Zhan is a resident of Lianghan.
The pandemic that shook the world
In April 2044, right as spring travel was picking up, the disease CoV-44 started spreading around the city of Lianghan. The virus soon spread all over the world, through droplets carried about by the extensive air travel network, and caused a high death toll not seen since 1918. Chinese netizens nicknamed the highly infectious disease "CoV死死" as a play on words on how deadly it is. Before the disease was gradually eradicated, whole cities were closed, people were stuck in their homes, and temporary hospitals had to be constructed. It was a hard time for everybody.
Fast forward to today, June 2046. The economy is back to normal levels, people don't have to care much about their health except for stronger norms on coughing, washing hands and wearing face masks, but people from Lianghan are still treated as active disease carriers. This stigma is thankfully fading away, but it still has some loyalists and has very real effects.
When help doesn't help
"The Hanguo government of course tried to get everyone to realize that the whole pandemic thing had been over for, like, a year now", Zhan said in an interview with us. "They promoted tourism in Lianghan, added a FAQ entry about lingering carriers... they helped us a lot. They really tried hard."
"But of course, some holdouts remained that really want to be as safe as possible. And then that mandate comes that you can't decide things based on the origin of a person, there's this big protest, the mandate gets overturned to dissolve the riots up there in the capital... it's a mess", he continued.
Currently, residents from Lianghan are sometimes declined check-in at hotels, sent through extra screening at airports, and asked degrading questions at ticket booths. Zhan believes that it is simply impossible to convince everyone to believe Lianghan citizens are safe to be around, and that the government is trying their best.
"It's a dark world out there, kids. You think being a president is easy; try having three million people screaming at you to do a hundred and one conflicting actions at once. It's quite challenging!", he mused.