Life interrupted – 14

Donuts… That what today is, donuts day. O new cases, O lives lost. The first time since June we have had no new active cases.

A second lockdown period started in July and after 112 days today we were told that restrictions would be lifted, shops, cafes, restaurants would re-open. If hugging was allowed right now I think we would be hugging and dancing in the streets.

I knew it would be a good day when Dan Andrews wore his North Face jacket to the presser. Indeed, I think the tears started right then, so much has it come to symbolise good news.

The people of Melbourne have sacrificed a lot to get to zero; jobs lost, relationships put on hold, isolation from friends and families. In the midst of all this we have had to put up with the partisan media making us anxious and confusing the message and the less than helpful responses from politicians. It’s felt like us against the world.

2020 has been hard in so many way and the last few months of extreme lockdown in particular. Confined to my home for 23 hours a day, it’s been confronting, endless and often dull. I’ve barely left the house in months, there’s been nothing fun to look forward too and no relief from the misery of daily numbers both locally and overseas. From my couch it seems like the world is sinking further and further into a hellhole.

I’d definitely not recommend doing a large and complex tech project when working from home during a pandemic. Social media and Dan’s pressers have been both a blessing and a curse. Isolation has become normalised to the point where it’s going to take a long time to get back into the swing of things, whatever that is now anyway.

We lost over 800 people in this second wave of the virus, all who were loved and cared for. Mental health care services have reported huge increases particularly from younger people. So many people lost jobs this year, it’s going to be hard to recover. Like most people I’ve felt anxious about the future and frustrated wondering if this lockdown would ever end.

We have had to endure RWNJs calling for us to open up for the sake of the economy rather than stay closed for the sake of lives. That was some of the worst moments for me – as though older people should be sacrificed at the altar of money and productivity.

I have all the sympathy in the world for businesses, it must be so hard not know how long we will be closed for or whether your business will survive. But locking down and staying there until we got a handle on transmission was still the better option in terms of costs as this article from Liam Mannix explains.

I’ll be forever grateful that the Premier, for all his faults, was guided by science and data when making decisions. And while there have been Covidiots and maskholery, on the whole Victorians have show themselves to be a community that cares about each other and protecting our most vulnerable.

As many countries see a massive resurgence of the virus, they are looking towards Melbourne and what we achieved to prevent its spread in their community. Ireland has just reimposed another six week lockdown based on what we did here – I pray the strategy will work for them too.

For me, the most successful part of the lockdown hasn’t been the numbers falling but the way we have taken care of each other. If you were getting down, as I did on several occasions, friends both locally and interstate reached out.

As we looked at the unnerving pictures of the deserted streets of our city, Melbournians loved her more and mourned her empty streets. We talked about her as if an old friend and made plans for what we would do when we can get back to visit her.

And while there’s still more to be done, more outbreaks that could occur -covid-normal will be the new normal for a while. I think for the moment we can all collectively exhale the breath we have been holding for months.

Getting on the beers” is the unofficial motto of our state now. So raise your glasses and let’s propose a toast to our city and our state, for our outstanding commitment to each other and endurance during these difficult months.

Cheers.