The Eerie Familiarity of a Melbourne Lockdown
The Australia Letter is a weekly publication from our Australia bureau.
It’s all so eerily acquainted. The grey climate and afternoon sunsets. The anxious look ahead to the day’s numbers. The obsessive checking of publicity websites. The rumors of restrictions, adopted by the fact of lockdown. The children house from faculty. Birthday events canceled, holidays postponed. The dreary, fearful, resigned uncertainty of all of it.
At the moment, Victoria entered its second lockdown since final yr, when the state — and Melbourne specifically — spent many months with a selection of harsh restrictions. With 39 lively coronavirus circumstances within the state and a whole bunch of publicity websites, together with sports activities arenas and crowded bars, we’ve been instructed we’re in for a seven-day “circuit breaker” lockdown. (In February, a snap lockdown saved us at house for 5 days round Valentine’s Day.) However we all know that if issues go the improper means, we could possibly be in for a longer haul.
A lot of the world has skilled some kind of lockdown, a lot in order that the phrase tends to lose that means when used outdoors of a native context. In Victoria, it means we’re not allowed to go away our houses aside from a few important causes. We aren’t allowed to journey greater than 5 kilometers from our houses. Enforcement final yr was strict; there’s no cause to suppose that this shall be any totally different, though most individuals are compliant. People I do know are glad for guidelines that intention to maintain them protected. However that appreciation doesn’t make the lonely claustrophobia of lockdown any simpler.
And it’s simple to surprise: Why Melbourne? Different Australian cities have managed to make it via your complete pandemic with solely transient restrictions and tiny outbreaks. Is it our climate? Our state’s insurance policies? Unhealthy luck? (The Guardian at this time has a good article analyzing these questions.)
There are a few variations this time round. As a substitute of Premier Dan Andrews delivering the day by day information conferences — whose ubiquity grew to become a form of ritual for Victorians final yr — we at the moment are being directed by the appearing premier James Merlino. (Mr. Andrews fell in early March and suffered damaged ribs and spinal injury. He’s anticipated to be again on the job subsequent month.) Many companies, significantly these with office-based employees, grew to become so used to functioning this manner final yr that it will barely disrupt them.
However the largest distinction for a lot of of us is that there’s something we are able to really do concerning the state of affairs this time round: get vaccinated. As of at this time, Victorians ages 40 to 49 could make an appointment to obtain a vaccine — earlier than that, solely these over 50 have been eligible. And of these within the over-50 vary, many individuals who delay getting vaccinated have turned out in droves in current days to obtain their photographs.
I bought my first dose final night time. (A change in my circumstances made me newly eligible yesterday.) I’d be mendacity if I instructed you it was a simple course of. I spent hours on maintain, took a lengthy bus trip to a clinic that turned me away (regardless of the Covid hotline sending me there), spent hours on maintain once more, took a bus house, then drove again to the clinic properly into the night. Many Victorians shall be coping with related frustrations at this time and into the longer term — lengthy strains, lengthy waits, confusion concerning the course of. However after months of ready, after the final yr, after every little thing, the one factor I felt upon receiving my shot was aid.
At the moment, like many Victorians, I’m wanting longingly out my window at my stunning metropolis. I’m serving to my son navigate home-schooling once more. I’m worrying about those that are sick. I’m grateful for the contact tracers, who’re working at lightning pace. I’m grateful to lastly have begun the vaccination course of.
I’m dreaming about springtime.
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