It’s day 44 of the NSW lockdown and the end is in sight. Restrictions have been gradually easing these past couple of weeks, and by Friday we will once again, be able to enjoy a coffee or a meal in a restaurant, 10 people at a time.
People who have been working from home for nearly 2 months are slowly trickling back into the office. Schools have just reopened part-time. And our local high street is buzzing with pent-up energy and the desire to spend money. It may just be the first flush of excitement as a few shops reopen (including the bookshop I manage, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet lately), but there is a real sense of release and exhilaration in the air.
People can start seeing other couples or families at a safe social distance, weddings will be able to include 10 guests and funerals 20. Places of worship can reopen and have 10 worshippers. Outdoor pools and gyms can, once again, be used with a few restrictions. Regional and interstate holidays are still a no-go, but for the past two weekends we’ve been able to visit our own holiday home in the mountains. Since last week it is possible to get a remedial massage and to get your hair done (yippee!! guess what I’m doing tomorrow on my day off.
We’re all still aware that the virus is out there and will be until a cure or vaccination is discovered. We still have to exercise caution and care, especially as we are about to enter the colder winter months. However, there’s also a real sense of self-congratulation.
We hunkered down early, closed our borders, and effected strict quarantine measures for anyone who did fly in from overseas. As a result our first round with Covid-19 has been fairly mild. We’ve only had 97 deaths nationwide. Today was our first day in NSW with no new cases of Covid recorded from over 6000 tests.
People have been out of work for up to two months and some businesses have gone under. Some have kept going but will struggle to survive. It has not been an easy time for many. Lots of people will be nervous about going back out into the world again. The elderly and unwell are still being encouraged to stay at home. Anyone with a scratchy throat or aches and pains is being urged to get tested straight away.
Our government also issued a Covid app that uses bluetooth to track who you come into contact with. The idea is that if you test positive at any point, they can use the data from the app to contact anyone else that you came into close contact with during your infectious period.
Needless to say, there has been a fair bit of debate around this re privacy issues and who gets the data. I’m in the, facebook-knows-more-about-me-than-this-app school of thought. Although I was sceptical to start with. But then I read up on it, discussed it with a few people and finally downloaded the app a couple of days after it was launched. It does not use GPS, only bluetooth and if it means we can ease restrictions sooner rather than later, it’s worth a shot. I’d certainly like to know if that customer I served on Thursday, tested positive on Friday. Without the app, it would be too hard to track this kind of incidental contact.
I really only had about 10 days in proper lockdown, before starting back at work, so I don’t know what it’s like to have been out of work for nearly 2 months with no guarantee about if or when I might start up again. Mr Books has been working from home and B19 is still an essential working plugging away at his pharmacy retail job. B22 is working from home part-time and slowly going stir crazy. Our extended family have all been fine, with only one cousin, who is a nurse, having to be tested and self-isolate for two weeks after an outbreak at work. She was negative, but the whole ward was shut down, thoroughly cleaned, with new procedures and protocols prepared for the eventual reopening.
A friend in the UK was sick, most likely with Covid, but since testing has been so limited there, they don’t know for sure. Despite presenting with all the symptoms and being quite unwell for a couple of weeks, she simply stayed at home with some supervision/advice from a GP and care from her lovely hubby.
I feel fortunate to have had so few personal brushes with the virus. I feel grateful that we’re of an age and stage in life, where we are financially secure and able to weather any economic downturn. I’m glad the boys are old enough to look after themselves; we haven’t had to home school or keep young children amused during this time. We are so lucky that all our jobs have been able to continue during this time one way or another. I’m thankful for our robust mental health and resilience. We’ve all had down days, days of doubt and insecurity, but we bounce back. We are, in fact, annoyingly positive and hopeful most of the time, confident of our ability to cope.
I love some of the changes this time has brought in.
We now have regular stay-at-home family games nights. We’re enjoying the slower pace of life; whole weekends of having nowhere to go. Staying at home instead, reading, puzzling, gardening and just hanging out together. We may be drinking a little more than usual though.
I was enjoying lovely long walks around my suburb before going back to work and daylight savings ended. I miss being able to do that every day already. After three weeks back at work, I’m wondering how on earth I used to fit everything in. I don’t want my life to be as rushed, scheduled and hectic as it used to be, but it seems to be slowly happening whether I like it or not.
History tells us that there will be a second, and most likely, a third wave of this pandemic. It’s not over yet, even though, at the moment, everyone (in my suburb) is kind of acting like it is.
It has been a weird time and the weird times are not over.
I’ve just started a book called Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. In the first few pages he discusses how we (humans) have an (erroneous) belief that we will revert to some form of base behaviour in times of crisis. Yet nearly 700 field studies have proved the exact opposite,
there’s never total mayhem. It’s never every man for himself. Crime – murder, burglary, rape – usually drops. People don’t go into shock, they stay calm and spring into action….Catastrophes bring out the best in people.
I have to believe this world-wide crisis will make us better human beings, despite some very specific individual examples that might say otherwise. They are, in fact, the minority. History and science are on our side. As a species we are wired to cope and carry-on. It’s what we’ve been doing for millennia; and it’s what we will keep on doing.
Stay safe and I hope this finds you well.
Take care; take heart.
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