Wednesday 22 April 2020

The Covid Chronicles #5

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.

The Covid Chronicles #1
The Covid Chronicles #2
The Covid Chronicles #3
The Covid Chronicles #4
The Covid Chronicles #5


  1. LOL! I'm still laughing about your Zoom experience w/ Grandma!! Great memories. :D

    I have to say, staying home has been a secretly pleasant experience for me, too (but I have other anxieties to get things back to the way they were, which I know they never will again, and I'm more irritated about that than I can say). I didn't know anyone who tested positive either until I learned 2 weeks ago that an aunt, uncle, cousin, and his daughter (who is a nurse) tested positive. Everyone has since recovered, but my uncle is now in the hospital and it has been 5 days now. They are in the hardest hit part of the U.S. (NYC).

    In the U.S., governors have more power over their subjects, I mean citizens, than the federal president, and I happen to live in one of the more oppressed fifedoms. We've had three times less deaths than NYC, yet, NYC did not have as many restrictions as Cali, and their governor has already moved to open up businesses and ease other restrictions. But the our governor king wants going to keep Cali on lockdown much longer -- well into May. He only now encouraged hospitals to begin elective surgeries again. Mind you, we've been on lockdown since March 15.

    I think California is near 1450 deaths. We are one of the top three largest populations in the U.S.; but there is confirmation now that California was infected long before other states - which makes sense bc people fly in from China to our West Coast. Now people are testing positive for antibodies, meaning they had it back in January and February and didn't even know it, and there is discussion that maybe an immunity has already been built up, and therefore, we were not hit as hard (deaths) as the East Coast.

    1. As hard as it has been to be in lockdown so long, perhaps that is why your state has one of the lowest death rates for Covid? Some states may be opening up business as usual again, but I have an awful feeling it will backfire on them. NYC actually seems to be a prime example of what can happen if you don't listen to the medical advice and isolate everyone. Second wave infection can be even worse than the first round, if 1919 is anything to go by.
      I was curious to hear about the number of Californians who tested positive for having the virus without knowing it. Is the west coast demographic generally younger & healthier than other states in the US?

  2. I'm glad your country is beginning to go back to normal. There is a huge push for us to do the same, but I am not sure we are ready.

    1. Judging by the numbers coming out of the States, I'd agree Deb, and say that you are a long way from being ready to move out of isolation and lockdown. But obviously some others feel differnetly.

      We still have a month of lockdown ahead of us, but I understand our lockdown is known as level 3, therefore not as restrictive as some other places (like NZ who have had level 4 lockdown for a month).

      The tourism and entertainment industries are shattered, but many other small businesses have found ways to go online, provide a takeaway or home delivery service or trade is some other way that observes the safety and distancing protocols.

      Generally speaking, Australians have been in this together, even the ones who think we're all over-reacting. Thankfully we don't have gung-ho, gun-toting people roaming our streets protesting. On the news it looks like they're only a small group of discontents, but it looks frightening, and it's beyond our comprehension how people could be self-serving.

  3. It seems we're all over the shock now doesn't it and settling down. I did 14 days isolation in a motel room when I stayed in NT to visit my daughter (I was allowed in ok because I had a loaded truck). I was out in the bush - on the edge of the Litchfield National Park - so that was peaceful with lots of room to walk, though too hot and humid to go outside much. But! I stuck to a diet and lost 5kg. Police came round a couple of times to make sure I hadn't gone walkabout. Darwin people very blase about restrictions (except the hospital of course where my daughter was for 3 days). Went to the bookshop in a very empty CBD mall and bought Patrick White's Cockatoos.
    It was harder getting back into WA. Lots of forms to fill out, both to enter the state and to enter a controlled zone (Kimberleys) and entrance for truckies was no longer automatic. Bill

    1. So glad you managed to get back to WA okay in the end Bill. It sounds like it was quite a process!

  4. I'm glad Australia has had such a low Covid infection etc. Here in Canada our province has seen 89 deaths 5,300 cases (3,387 total deaths in Canada) and apparently our "peak" is due in mid-to late May .... still they plan to ease restrictions here in coming weeks since they say the hospitals will be able to handle it ... from what models show.
    I guess I don't think Covid will be a blip in the history here in North America anytime soon .... as too much has happened ... the economy is gutted and so many have died. Certain things have changed .... it'll be a long recovery

    1. The economists say, going by past recessions, that it will take a decade to recover the economy. Our govts deficit from the GFC was finally paid off a few years back and we we're on the right side of the ledger when this happened. I did not vote for our current govt, but mostly I've been happy with how prepared they've been to spend this surplus on stimulus packages and programs to help those who lost jobs, small businesses etc. We all understand it will take years to recover it again (with taxes etc). I've been reading a number of financial papers/news and some are even suggesting that since this recession has come not from a bubble or long-term economic decline or errors, then a quicker bounce back is more likely. I guess we will have to wait and see. As the virus has effected and been managed differently by each country, I guess the recovery will also depend on local factors.

      It's certainly gut-wrenching to see how many people have died so quickly and all the same time around the world.

      We have been able to relax a few of the restrictions starting this weekend. We can now meet up with 2 other people, beaches have been reopened (although it is now too cold to swim) and short distance travelling is okay. The test will be to see how this pans out for us over the next month or so as we head into winter.


This blog has now moved to Wordpress.
Please visit This Reading Life to comment.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.