Elliot Lazar moved to New York City last year to pursue his acting dream; he had no clue that he’d find himself in the middle of a real-life horror movie.
The 25 year old returned to Winnipeg nearly two weeks ago after deciding to leave the most-COVID-19-ravaged city in the United States.
"I began seeing more and more friends moving home in order to wait things out," he said over the phone from his childhood bedroom in Tuxedo, where he’s been self-isolating since his return to his hometown.
After speaking with his fiancé, who is social distancing in Phoenix with his family, Lazar decided it was time to come back to Winnipeg. His decision was made easier because he had no health insurance in the U.S., had lost his work in New York and could make a living here offering singing, piano and guitar lessons online.
He flew out of LaGuardia Airport March 16 and returned to Canada in Toronto.
"There was a questionnaire to fill out which asked about symptoms of COVID-19," he said. "There was a prompt at the end asking us to confirm we understood that we were being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, followed by a handout with a little guide to self-isolation."
The flights home were "pretty painless," he said.
"The energy was a little weird in the airports and you could tell people were a little on edge, but it was really easy and simple."
Lazar took precautions when his father picked him up at the airport in Winnipeg.
"I sat in the backseat, covered my mouth and tried not to touch anything," he said. "We went straight home and I went immediately up to my bedroom."
Lazar was tested for COVID-19 last Sunday at the drive-thru testing location on Bison Drive after experiencing some minor symptoms.
He said the testing process was simple and straightforward. He was given an estimate of 72 hours before he’d have results. He’s still waiting.
Watching New York shut down was difficult for the Boston Conservatory at Berklee theatre graduate, who moved to the bright lights and big city in August.
"My last couple of days there, New York was eerie," he said. "There were relatively few people out and walking around, and public transportation was uncrowded. My allergies had started acting up and I could feel people’s concern any time I sneezed in public."
He plans to return to New York when it’s possible. "I love living in New York. My dad was actually born in New York, so I always wanted to live there."
But now, in self-isolation in his old bedroom, the effects of social distancing are starting to set in.
But he remains hopeful.
"I feel very lucky that technology has made it so easy for me to stay connected with people, even while in isolation."
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