I’ve seen a few people post status updates on Facebook documenting what life is like under our current isolation restrictions and I thought I might do that same, but right here.
The new normal seems so normal by now that I don’t give it a second thought on a daily basis, but one day I will forget and it will be good to have somewhere to come back to and remember what life was like.
Firstly, all cafes, pubs, restaurants and clubs are closed, except for takeaway and home delivery. I’ve seen some amazing transformations take place in the hospitality industry as businesses have pivoted to move to a take away/home delivery model of food production so that they can still use the food they have in stock and I assume still taking delivery of and to employ as many staff as they can. There even have been new businesses start as collaborations between several businesses such a wholesale supermarket that has taken over a local event space and stocks excess restaurant food supplies, pre-prepared meals from a number of restaurants, food packs and bakery goods from a bakery.
All non-essential businesses are also closed, although I am not sure of what non-essential actually means. Hardware stores are open as are supermarkets and hairdressers, but beauty salons are not.
All social gatherings are forbidden in Victoria, unless they’re people from the same household, in the house. You can exercise with one other person not from your household, but you must maintain the 1.5 m social distance from them. Exercising outdoors, ie: walking, running or bike riding with your household members is OK. Weddings are limited to 5 people and funerals to 10. Public transport still operates, but state and country borders are closed right across the world, I think, unless it’s for repatriation purposes.
Supermarkets and all other shops have physical distancing marks on the floor at the checkouts and generally there seem to be fewer people at the shops at all times. Some items are hard to come by, such as toilet paper, flour, hand wash, sanitising wipes and cleaners. But that seems to depend on which shop you go to and at what time of day. The other day, Ben and I went to Woolworths in search of flour, which we couldn’t find, but there was plenty at Aldi. There was no hand washing liquid at Aldi on the Saturday afternoon, but when I went back on Tuesday morning, I was able to buy a bottle. So, go early and go during the week is my new grocery shopping motto.
You can only leave the house to go to work or school, but schools are only operating on remote learning in Victoria, unless the kids are unable to participate in it for a range of reasons, such as their parents being essential workers. You can also go to the supermarket, chemist, doctor and for some reason, the tip. Most doctors are doing phone or video consultations, instead of in-person appointments and these are all bulk-billed (I think). I guess some doctors could still charge a gap fee if they wanted.
The government has released a number of stimulus packages for businesses and individuals, including additional payments to those on the JobSeeker payment, like me. This is because thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result of businesses closing or cutting down on shifts. Many freelancers have been forced to shut down as they have lost contracts due to the pandemic causing market instability. The arts industry has been the most seriously affected, as all entertainment events were cancelled back in March and cinemas and theatres are closed. New film releases are going straight to DVD and digital downloads. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival was cancelled as was the Rainbow Serpent Festival.
Everyone is staying at home and going quietly crazy, especially those with small children, as all playgrounds and schools are closed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be going through this situation with small children, although I imagine that if one has a backyard, it would be bearable. When mine were small, we had a very child-friendly backyard with lots to do, so I hope that those that need to manage this are doing so. At least childcare centres are still open, although I don’t know if that’s for everyone or just essential workers.
Except that some of us are quietly loving iso life. We love the slower pace of living, the lack of pressure to be out there doing things, running our kids here, there and everywhere. We love staying indoors, being with our families and not interacting with the outside world. There is a lot of iso baking going on among my Facebook friends and some iso crafting.
The current conditions are meant to stay in place until 11 May 2020. Other countries are already talking about what life will look like from the middle of May, with some restrictions being lifted and some businesses being allowed to trade again. I hope Australia takes a more conservative approach, based on health science, rather than economics, because so far, we’ve done really well in terms of controlling the spread of the coronavirus, and resulting hospitalisations and deaths.
I do hope that some things will stay in place forever, such as working from home for those who can and want to. The other thing I’ve really loved is the innovation I’m seeing from various businesses as they’ve adapted to the new conditions. They’ve started farmgate sales, home delivery and take away food from restaurants that have never offered it before. While eating out is a huge pleasure for me, sometimes it would be nice to have your favourite meal at home in my pjs, so I hope that this stays around. At the moment home delivery and take away options in Ballarat are limited to the basics such as pizza, burgers and some Asian restaurants and an expanded menu would be an awesome long term addition.
What else? National and State parks are closed as are most beaches around the country, I think. There is no hiking or camping allowed and everyone spent their Easter at home. There were no big family gatherings, at least not legal ones, and we spent only our second or third Easter away from my parents.
So that’s what life looks like during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Are things different where you live? Have I missed something? Tell me in the comments below.