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 anticipate the day’s numbers. The obsessive checking of exposure sites. The rumors of restrictions, adopted by the fact of lockdown. The youngsters residence from faculty. Birthday events canceled, holidays postponed. The dreary, fearful, resigned uncertainty of all of it.
Today, Victoria entered its first lockdown since last year, when the state — and Melbourne particularly — spent many months with a variety of harsh restrictions. With 39 lively coronavirus instances within the state and lots of of publicity websites, together with sports activities arenas and crowded bars, we’ve been advised we’re in for a seven-day “circuit breaker” lockdown. But we’ve heard that earlier than, and we all know that if issues go the fallacious method we may very well be in for a longer haul.
Much 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 properties aside from a few important causes. We usually are not allowed to journey greater than 5 kilometers from our properties. Enforcement final yr was strict; there’s no cause to assume that this will probably be any totally different, though most individuals are compliant. Folks I do know are glad for guidelines that intention to maintain them protected. But that appreciation doesn’t make the lonely claustrophobia of lockdown any simpler.
And it’s straightforward to surprise: Why Melbourne? Other Australian cities have managed to make it via all the pandemic with solely transient restrictions and tiny outbreaks. Is it our climate? Our state’s insurance policies? Bad luck? (The Guardian as we speak has a good article examining these questions.)
There are a few variations this time round. Instead of Premier Dan Andrews delivering the every day information conferences — whose ubiquity became a kind of ritual for Victorians last year — we are actually being directed by the performing premier James Merlino. (Mr. Andrews fell in early March and suffered damaged ribs and spinal injury. He is predicted to be again on the job subsequent month.) Many companies, notably these with office-based employees, turned so used to functioning this manner final yr that it will barely disrupt them.
But the most important distinction for a lot of of us is that there’s something we are able to truly do concerning the scenario this time round: get vaccinated. As of as we speak, 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 postpone getting vaccinated have turned out in droves in latest days to obtain their photographs.
I obtained my first dose final night time. (A change in my circumstances made me newly eligible yesterday.) I’d be mendacity if I advised you it was a straightforward course of. I spent hours on maintain, took a lengthy bus journey to a clinic that turned me away (regardless of the Covid hotline sending me there), spent hours on maintain once more, took a bus residence, then drove again to the clinic properly into the night. Many Victorians will probably be coping with comparable frustrations as we speak and into the long run — lengthy strains, lengthy waits, confusion concerning the course of. But after months of ready, after the final yr, after every thing, the one factor I felt upon receiving my shot was reduction.
Today, like many Victorians, I’m trying 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 unwell. 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.
How is the brand new Victorian lockdown affecting you? Let us know at email@example.com.
Here are this week’s tales.