I just wanted to get some shopping done. As I left, a woman in line smiled and met my eyes. “How do these people decide who to blame?” she said, kindly.

The man at the till raised his voice: “I hope your people sort this out.” — Amie Tsang


In Hampstead, a famously posh neighborhood in north London, the arrival of a delivery truck in front of a grocery store provoked a scramble. It was a Wednesday morning. Over the weekend, Britons had finally begun to stop wandering around merrily in the sunshine, a sense taking hold that the virus was really a thing, and shoppers had comprehensively emptied the store’s shelves of things like soup and crushed tomatoes. The pasta section was bare, save for gluten-free lentil penne. Frozen pizzas were no more. Toilet paper was gone without a trace. Maybe now the truck was bringing more?

The deliveryman rolled a couple of pallets inside. They contained only bread and bananas. Shoppers jostled irritably for what slim pickings remained, while the checkout line snaked all the way back to the frozen foods section.

Nearby, at a high-end greengrocer, a Frenchwoman was buying apples. She told the cashier that she had taken her children out of school and rented a house in the Cotswolds, a lush swath of country to the northwest. They would ride out the pandemic there.

On the main street running through Hampstead Village, a travel agency remained open, but a sign beseeched people to consider telephoning rather than walking in. Down the street, the post office was shut at midday. A sign explained: Clerks were at home in quarantine. The same went for an HSBC bank branch. The butcher was doing a brisk business. The prime minister would not order a national lockdown for another five days. — Peter S. Goodman

Oakland, Calif.

Living rooms got Buffy Wicks elected. Her campaign for the California State Assembly two years ago was powered by 239 house parties — intimate living-room gatherings full of hugs and handshakes and locking down votes. At every one, Ms. Wicks would trot out a line about her 6-month-old daughter, Jojo. “She can’t be the reason I don’t run,” she would say. “She’s the reason I have to run.”

Now Wicks and Jojo are both at home in Oakland under a shelter-in-place order. Jojo is 3, playing with Magna-Tiles and trains while Ms. Wicks cycles through legislative conference calls. A week ago, she co-signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom calling for a 45-day moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs in the state. She has made calls to food banks and to small businesses that are laying off employees. And she has had to make time for visits to the obstetrician: Ms. Wicks is pregnant with her second child.

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