What a year, huh? We’re only halfway but I feel like I’ve lived two lifetimes since Christmas. Six months ago my dad was getting discharged from hospital and I was getting ready to look after him here!
In case you don’t know, I live in Australia (south-east Queensland) and we are in a weird time with COVID. We’re now getting into the colder part of our winter and different states are in different stages of lockdown, with Victoria about to go into full lockdown yet again in around 24+ hours. In New South Wales (the state between QLD and Vic) it’s, for the most part, the close to ‘back to normal’ but still with restrictions (as of writing 8 new cases emerged overnight) and here in QLD we’re coming up to phase 3 of restrictions (with no new cases). I should add that it’s easier to travel into NSW with its active cases than into QLD and since I live near the border, that’s the main difference I’ve found firsthand.
While this does ease a lot of the anxiety with going out in public it still makes me hesitant, and I’m not alone. Our conservative government here has been pressuring all states and territories here to open and get back to work and school for months now. even with evidence that the lump payment people got from Centrelink (if they were ‘eligible’) our absolute scab of a prime minister has voiced that people don’t want to go back to work because they’re getting money from the government. I should let you know that this government just did this too.
I say this because since the initial outbreak here, we’ve had weird, pseudo, contradictory rules here that have constantly made people confused. Between the phrase “social distancing” and being able to do one thing then the PM confirming it yet letting people -himself included- go to Hillsong conferences. Not one mask there, of course.
These contradictions and an Australian philosophy of “she be right, mate” [x]made a lot of people, especially in the autumn-but-still-summery-climate take a very relaxed attitude. This is a city where even McDonald’s has to remind patrons “no shirt, no thongs/shoes, no service” if they come rolling in from the beach. Honestly, the second – the SECOND – we went from the full phase one restriction and went into phase three, two of my neighbours had parties again, I had people wanting to come over, knowing very well I’m immunocompromised, in public no one was using hand sanitiser going into grocery stores or cleaning their carts. For a lot of people, it was already back to normal!
I don’t have to tell you that it wasn’t for me. Look, during this outbreak I’ve been very lucky. I don’t have a job but I do get a government payment so I can’t survive. I’m very much a homebody and a lot of the things I’m trying to achieve are through doing work here at home. This change to being ‘housebound’ didn’t change my day-to-day living. However, I wasn’t eligible for grocery delivery, I still had to get meds (thankfully our chemists here had strict protocols for stepping foot inside). I still had to go out with people who found all of it really annoying and convenient. For me, it was incredibly stressful and the idea that people found it disrupting to get their 10 packs of toilet paper or to get coffee and drinks with their mates was so. goddamn. infuriating.
As I said above, we’re officially in winter now and August is our coldest month. With phase three in effect in a few days and borders starting to open (except Vic) it’s a nervous time for a lot of people, including me. The pressure for things to be normal again and a relaxed/careless atmosphere almost guarantees a second wave.
I can’t begin to imagine how you guys in the US are doing, for you guys doing the right thing I commend you so much. You have all my support and thoughts.
For now my life is still the same and I’m hoping online acting classes will start up again soon so I can do that. My family and I (along with some of my friends) are all moving to different places in the next few months so this is going to be an interesting rest of the year that’s for sure!
Sorry if you didn’t want to read a half-political, half-rant post, however, you can’t separate COVID and politics as what we can and can’t do is dictated by the leader/party of your country.
We’re also in a recession and while you might get an image of the 2008 financial crisis, with a pandemic happening we’re not really seeing the physical (or financial effects) of it yet. Actually, I think most Australians have forgotten we’re in one – I almost did right now.