What It Feels like to Go into Lockdown Again Due to a Potential Second Wave
Melbourne’s second lockdown won’t kill our optimism.
My hometown made headlines. We’re back into a full lockdown again here in Melbourne, Australia, because of a potential second wave of the coronavirus.
Two nights ago the border was closed between the states of Melbourne and Sydney for the first time in 100 years (since the Spanish Flu).
The outbreak was linked to a botched hotel quarantine operation — that was supposed to isolate overseas travelers — and what experts are calling a potential “second wave.” A security guard is accused of having sex with a person that was supposed to be in hotel isolation. The outbreak started in a few suburbs and then quickly spread. They tried to lockdown suburbs but it didn’t work, so they locked everything down for a minimum of six weeks.
A mini-humanitarian crisis started when the government decided to lockdown government housing first (where the poorest and most vulnerable reside) and surprise residents with a forced stay at home order with no reason to leave home — not even for food or exercise. Residents called their homes “penitentiary.”
Ahmed Dini, a resident of one of the public housing towers said, “Why is this happening to us? Are we different? Do we happen to be a different class of people?” As a Melbournian, it left me without words. On the one hand there is a pandemic and on the other hand there are basic human rights and the notion of freedom, which Australia values greatly.
This second lockdown of Melbourne is stricter than the first. This time there are police at the border and booze buses blocking suburban roads — a police bus that would normally check your breath for alcohol — to ask where you’re going and check your driver’s license to see your primary place of residence.
Covid-19 is not over and I was wrong. Some would say it’s just getting started.
Amongst all the chaos, though, there is beauty.
More “I love you’s”
I find myself phoning home a lot more to check in on family. With elderly parents it’s always a reminder that life doesn’t go on forever. All we have is right now and that means reminding the people I care about how much they mean to me. It might sound cheesy, but love is what keeps us going during these incredibly challenging times.
More time together
The second lockdown has meant more time with my partner. We have spent a record amount of time together and that has brought us closer. It’s a privilege to spend lockdown with a person you care deeply about and find small ways to show them.
Whether it’s giving her the bigger serving of popcorn, giving up my office chair so she can sit in comfort while working from home, or coming up with new ways to celebrate birthdays — time together is far better than time apart. When Covid-19 first broke out my partner was in China and the start of what was to come became real. It was difficult for her to return home.
Everyone aboard her plane was scared. People were all wearing masks, not interacting with each other. The flight was eerie and food service was severely limited to stop the spread of the virus.
Humans in alien suits entered her plane when she touched down at Melbourne Airport. The passengers were subjected to checks, delays and questioning about where they had been. My partner told me she didn’t feel human; she felt like a species that was infected with a virus that robbed her of her humanity.
I had the task of ringing the government hotline to find out how we could share a home while taking precautions. The knowledge was limited. We ended up splitting our home into two parts and doing a 14-day isolation, even though there was no requirement to do so at the time. I slept on the floor of my office and couldn’t wait until it was over.
When the fourteen days were up, we went back to life as usual and made the mistake of thinking Covid-19 was a “China thing.” We were wrong.
A change in spending
The financial markets feel weird because of the pandemic. I have had time during lockdown to research what is going on.
While the markets are at record highs, something feels off.
Record unemployment and a pandemic don’t seem like good conditions for a booming stock market, yet that’s the situation we find ourselves in. I have learned during this time to always question my assumptions about money and consider the opposite viewpoint. It’s possible that what we’re looking at in the financial markets is a bear trap. Time will tell.
Looking at my bank balance, one thing has changed drastically: there are very few debits coming out of my account. I have stopped spending and hardly noticed. When there is so much uncertainty it seems that we stop spending money and go into a mini-spending hibernation.
There is beauty in realizing you don’t need to buy more stuff. Perhaps that’s one of the greatest lessons from this pandemic.
More reading because of no new TV shows
TV production has slowed right down. As a result, I have streamed everything I want to watch. So, my only option is to read for entertainment. This has led to an increase in quiet time, spent studying many bizarre topics.
I read all about the Spanish Flu the other day and the similarities to today are uncanny. It taught me about how we start off denying a crisis until there is no more denying to do. Then we accept the situation and take the actions we should have done in the beginning. The only question is “how much damage has been done already?”
Time spent reading brings out so many interesting insights and it took a second lockdown to remind me.
An appreciation of true freedom
Before this second lockdown, I took freedom for granted. Going to the gym or drinking a latte inside a warm cafe seemed like something I was entitled to.
Having those freedoms stripped away has helped me see just how much we are blind to our own freedom.
When your freedoms are summarised in a document called “Lockdown Restrictions,” and how you behave and interact with your fellow human beings is scrutinized, your perspective shifts. Fishing, walks, and family visits seem to all take on a whole new meaning.
More gratitude for life itself
Three of the Melbourne suburbs that had outbreaks are ones I visited in the week prior to this second lockdown.
I came into close contact with people who could have been infected. This stark reality can lead to many interesting thoughts. One thought that came to me was how much gratitude I have for life itself.
It’s a privilege to even live at all.
There may be police in the streets and a second lockdown sentence for us Melbournians, but this won’t kill our optimism.
There is beauty amongst the chaos. There is hope hidden in the shining stars above us. Humanity is being tested. The exam question is this:
Can you see the beauty yet?
We’re all in this together and that’s the beautiful part.