Tuesday 4 August 2020


“A pestilence does not have human dimensions, so people tell themselves that it is unreal, that it is a bad dream which will end. But it does not always end and, from one bad dream to the next, it is people who end, humanists first of all because they have not prepared themselves.” ― Albert Camus 

Last Sunday, our Premier declared Victoria to be in a “State of Disaster” as the second-wave  COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise despite the second lockdown and Stage III restrictions that had been imposed about three weeks ago. These measures, however, failed to control the outbreak and hence the Stage IV restrictions imposed now. The new restrictions will last for six weeks, at least, but hopefully will be curbing the alarming spread of the virus in the community sooner than that.

Under Melbourne’s new restrictions, beginning 6pm Sunday night, only one person in each household can do shopping once a day. Exercise can be undertaken once a day for one hour, and no more than two people can exercise together. Residents can’t travel more than five kilometres from their home for shopping or exercise. The wearing of masks by everyone is mandatory and social distancing rules still apply. Regional Victoria will enter stage 3 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday. Travel of course, is out of the question, especially so travel for pleasure. The state borders have already been closed and there is no international flight traffic into or out of Melbourne Airport.

From the 2nd of August, a curfew will be in place in metropolitan Melbourne. Curfews will be in operation from 8pm to 5am every evening, with people only allowed to leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. Furthermore, retailers that have been deemed non-essential will need to close for six weks from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 5th of August. The list of retailers forced to close includes furniture and homewares, stationery, electrical and electronics, motor vehicle and motor parts, recreational goods, department stores, and clothing and footwear retailers. Hardware, building and garden supplies retailers will be allowed to serve only trade customers in stores; consumers will have to rely on online delivery or click and collect.

Perhaps more alarming for some people is the declaration of a “State of Disaster”. Deeming our current situation thus, confers extra powers on the police minister to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It allows the minister to direct government agencies to act in certain ways (or refrain from doing so) in order to deal with the disaster, and they can also override legislation. Other relevant powers conferred on the minister include the power to control movement within, and entry into or departure from, the disaster area (which is the whole of the state) or any part of it.

Most people reacted positively to the declaration of a State of Disaster and realise that the current situation with spread of COVID-19 is a grave emergency that warrants such drastic measures being taken. However, we also have the minority component of the population who are screaming and shouting that our civil liberties are being eroded, our democracy is being suspended and that a totalitarian regime has been imposed on us. Needless to say that there are also those people who believe that COVID-19 is not real and that we are being duped by a multinational conspiracy. The latter groups are usually the ones that engage in behaviours that are risky and contribute greatly to the spread of virus in the community.

The truth of the matter is that people are becoming sick, are being admitted into hospital, some in intensive care, and some unfortunately dying. The elderly, the infirm and those with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable. The pandemic has revealed immense deficiencies in our aged care sector, with many nursing homes for the aged being substandard in their level of care and in basic hygiene procedures. This has caused enormous numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the sector. Needless to say, psychological problems and suicide rates are on the increase throughout the community, with depression becoming a common affliction.

The economy is taking nosedives into abysmal regions and many businesses have been forced to close their doors permanently. For the first time in many decades we are seeing deflation and the price of real estate is decreasing while the gold price is increasing. Many people have become unemployed, our unemployment rate jumping to double figures and predicted to rise even further, making people dependent on special government allowances in order to survive. Many are dipping into their superannuation funds, making withdrawals so as to cope financially. It seems that our affluent, pleasure-seeking and lackadaisical lifestyle has been disrupted in a major way and the future may be quite a different one to what most Australians had planned and envisioned for themselves.

Politicians here in Australia are struggling to cope with these enormous social, health and financial problems, while at the same time juggling with populist policies to appease an increasingly disgruntled and skeptical electorate. We are seeing a wide spectrum of political responses and quite often the blame game is started, with opposing sides finger-pointing and trying to exonerate themselves from past inappropriate decisions that allowed us to reach the present critical situation.

Internationally, some politicians are doing even worse. There are deniers, obfuscators, and blatant, arrogant and deceiving demagogues that have blood on their hands as they have done next to nothing to protect their country’s people from this scourge that the world has to deal with. They abjure science, twist facts to suit their own agendas and label anything that they cannot logically discount as “fake”, but at the same time they fabulate their own personal little worlds that have nothing to do with reality or truth.

We are travelling on rough ground here in Melbourne and the road ahead is uneven, precipitous and bleak. I look out of my window on this dark, wet, cold Winter’s night and the normally busy road outside is deserted and eerily lit by the sickly street lamps. As the rain falls, a solitary car careers down the street, and one hopes that the person in it is not rushing to some emergency that has forced them to break curfew. Travel Tuesday is rather gloomy today, but excuse my melancholy, as these are sad times we are experiencing.

I leave you with some wisdom and some hope, some simple and effective advice that we should all heed and try and follow. These are the thoughts and words of 92-year-old Joss Ackland:
This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,

and also part of the Blue Monday meme.

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