The Australia Letter is a weekly e-newsletter from our Australia bureau.
It’s all so eerily acquainted. The grey climate and afternoon sunsets. The anxious await 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.
Right now, Victoria entered its second lockdown since final 12 months, when the state — and Melbourne specifically — spent many months with a wide range of harsh restrictions. With 39 energetic coronavirus circumstances within the state and tons of of publicity websites, together with sports activities arenas and crowded bars, we’ve been informed 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 flawed manner, we may very well be in for an extended haul.
A lot of the world has skilled some type of lockdown, a lot in order that the phrase tends to lose that means when used outdoors of an area context. In Victoria, it means we aren’t allowed to go away our houses apart from a number of important causes. We’re not allowed to journey greater than 5 kilometers from our houses. Enforcement final 12 months was strict; there’s no cause to suppose that this can be any totally different, though most individuals are compliant. People I do know are glad for guidelines that purpose to maintain them protected. However that appreciation doesn’t make the lonely claustrophobia of lockdown any simpler.
And it’s straightforward to marvel: Why Melbourne? Different Australian cities have managed to make it by way of the whole pandemic with solely temporary restrictions and tiny outbreaks. Is it our climate? Our state’s insurance policies? Unhealthy luck? (The Guardian at this time has a superb article analyzing these questions.)
There are a number of variations this time round. As an alternative of Premier Dan Andrews delivering the each day information conferences — whose ubiquity grew to become a type of ritual for Victorians final 12 months — we at the moment are being directed by the performing premier James Merlino. (Mr. Andrews fell in early March and suffered damaged ribs and spinal harm. He’s anticipated to be again on the job subsequent month.) Many companies, notably these with office-based employees, grew to become so used to functioning this manner final 12 months that it will barely disrupt them.
However the greatest distinction for many people is that there’s something we will truly do in regards to the scenario 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 had been eligible. And of these within the over-50 vary, many individuals who delay getting vaccinated have turned out in droves in latest days to obtain their photographs.
I acquired my first dose final night time. (A change in my circumstances made me newly eligible yesterday.) I’d be mendacity if I informed you it was a straightforward course of. I spent hours on maintain, took an extended bus experience 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 can be coping with related frustrations at this time and into the long run — lengthy traces, lengthy waits, confusion in regards to the course of. However after months of ready, after the final 12 months, after all the things, the one factor I felt upon receiving my shot was reduction.
Right now, like many Victorians, I’m trying longingly out my window at my lovely metropolis. I’m serving to my son navigate home-schooling once more. I’m worrying about those that are unwell. I’m grateful for the contact tracers, who’re working at lightning velocity. I’m grateful to lastly have begun the vaccination course of.
I’m dreaming about springtime.
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