When last we met, lockdown restrictions had just begun in NSW and across Australia. That was three weeks ago.
How have we managed ourselves during this time?
As a country, we seemed to have embraced the seriousness of the situation and done the right thing. However, a few areas and pockets of people are not really on board with the whole social isolating thing. Some of the younger generation have found it hard to stay put or curtail their social lives, some of the entitled have found it hard to see how these rules apply to them and some groups (tradies in particular) think we’re being ridiculous.
My local supermarket is still a mess of failed social distancing and my suburb feels almost as busy as usual. We’ve been so fortunate in Australia, that community transmission has been so low. The early closing of international borders (compared to other countries) seems to have been our blessing. Cruise ships and nursing homes have the highest numbers of cases and deaths, but no-one I know has had any contact with Covid-19 or been ill.
A few family members who are nurses, are on the front-line of care and testing; a few more family members have been laid-off work for the time being or are working reduced hours (including me, I believe). Quite a lot of people I know will be eligible for the new job-keeper allowance (including me) and a number of older friends have been in voluntary quarantine for well over a month due to concerns for their immunity levels.
Up until the Easter weekend, the restrictions were being followed, not quite unquestioningly, but as a necessary collective evil. But now, our curve has flattened nicely, testing rates have increased as positive results have plummeted. Australia has now dropped way down the Worldometer Coronavirus list. Out of a population of 26 million people, we’ve had 6647 cases of Covid-19 and 74 deaths.
The government is starting to talk about relaxing some of the restrictions. When term two starts next week, essential workers will be able to send their children to school full time, while every other child will have a rotating part-time roster arrangement. Beaches have been reopened for people to swim, run and walk on (but no sun bathing allowed). The supermarkets finally have fully stocked shelves again.
The first week of lockdown was weird, but it now feels like the new normal.
I struggled to read, blog or settle to anything during that first week, but now I’ve settled into a new relaxed routine. I’ve been on 5 km walks, rediscovered my love of jigsaw puzzles and tidied the garden and house. I’ve also found my reading and writing mojo once again.
About a week and half ago, I started back at work (see The Covid Chronicles #1 – link below – for the full history of that particular story). The hours have been erratic and relaxed as we get the behind scenes stuff sorted in preparation for reopening. How much we get done is contingent on tradies and renovations happening around us.
The first day I left the house for work was really odd.
I felt nervous about heading back into a social situation I couldn’t control completely. I had also got used to having my time as my own. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be busy and always tired again. It only took a few days, though, to be grateful for the stimulation and the sense of purpose that work can bring.
I’ve made a point of supporting my favourite local cafes for morning tea and lunch, as they operate on reduced takeaway menus from their front doors.
My main lockdown project has been my daily instagram pic for #thislockdownlife, where I’ve tried to document things that are different or unusual or changed thanks to Covid-19. From Marie Kondo-ing my T-towel drawer to romantic lunches at home with Mr Books. Jigsaw puzzles and rediscovering my unfinished cross-stitch projects, dressing up for Saturday night dinner at home and creating a potted herb garden. All things I may or may not have done pre-Covid, but the point is they are things I have embraced, learnt to appreciate anew or reclaimed thanks to Covid-19.
It has been a weird time, but I haven’t found it particularly stressful or difficult. I realise that I am one of the lucky ones and this is not the case for everyone. I’ve enjoyed the quieter, unscheduled days and having the family at home. I like having less people bustling around and fewer cars rushing along the streets (although the dog-walking parks have exploded in popularity over the past few weeks!) But maybe, part of the weird pleasure I’m getting out of this, is knowing that it will end one day. It may still be some weeks or months off, but one day, life will return to it’s new normal and this Covid-19 time will be little more than a blimp in our history. It will become one of those stories that gets recycled every Christmas, ‘remember our lockdown Easter when we Zoomed Grandma to help us with the egg hunt and Grandpa walked by in his underwear!’
Until then, though, I will stay at home as much as work allows me. I will take my daily walk in the beautiful autumnal sunshine. I will pre-dinner Zoom my friends to enjoy a glass of wine and a laugh in their company.
It’s too soon to properly reflect on lessons learnt or to devise new ways of going forward, but it’s something I would like to devote time to at some point. I just hope our leaders can do the same.
Stay safe and I hope this finds you well.