Two homeless men were sitting on a park bench. They couldn’t help but notice the increased number of locals that were frequenting ‘their’ park in recent weeks and interestingly, everyone was sporting, what seemed to them, these silly masks.
The first homeless man looked at his ‘housemate’ and asked, “why would common sense people, 50 metres apart, volunteer to breathe in their own exhaust?”
His housemate responded by saying that he had heard that there was a new baddy in town, called Coronavirus.
The first homeless man then said, “Shit, we might get Coronavirus.”
His housemate dismissively replied, “Nah, we won’t get Coronavirus.”
“Why not?” asked the first homeless man.
“Because, we don’t have a TV!” he assured.
On Sunday 13 September, it was a full six months from the day that the Melbourne Grand Prix was cancelled and the severity of the virus was announced, in no uncertain terms, to all of Victoria.
Sunday 13 September was also supposed to be the day that Stage 4 restrictions were initially planned to be lifted and replaced by slightly more moderate restrictions.
When Stage 4 restrictions were announced at the start of August, Victoria’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Brett Sutton was asked point blank, will six weeks be enough?
The CMO responded without hesitating, “Six weeks, will be more than enough.”
Personally, I thought Stage 4 restrictions would be retained till 4 October in line with the start of Term 4. This extra three weeks would give Victoria a chance to get right on top of the second wave.
It would also give (at least some) students a chance to look forward to a full term at school and businesses such as restaurants, pubs and small retailers – that have been devastated by the Stage 4 lockdowns – a chance to have three month run to Christmas so that 2020 isn’t a complete write off.
Importantly, it would give Victorians a glimmer of hope that we would eventually emerge from the depths of the Minotaur’s cave. Cases of family violence, self-harm, depression and anxiety were off the charts and a little reprieve would surely be the best antidote.
So, last Sunday, there we were, 6.5 million Victorians glued to the TV, hoping to hear some good news. Like a dutiful pack of submissive labradors, we waited for our master to hand out a few dry dog biscuits of reward in the form of a road map out of lockdown.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews strode to the podium and instead of Ariadne’s sword and ball of thread out of the labyrinth or even so much as an olive branch, we were handed the Coyote’s anvil.
In his signature perfunctory style, the Premier doled out a little more tough love to all of Victoria. It would be 23 November before Melbourne’s world renowned restaurants could welcome back their first patrons – 20 at a time. That is, another ten weeks!
On 2 September, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that Australia was in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Economic activity in the Arts had collapsed by 25 per cent, hospitality by 37 per cent and transport Services (which include modest little chauffeur enterprises like my own) by a distressing 87 per cent! These figures were nationwide and as we all well know, in Melbourne, these figures are far worse.
Parts of regional Victoria that were without a case of the virus for months seemed to be tarred with the same brush as Metropolitan Melbourne’s worst affected western suburbs.
Businesses that had enacted COVID-19 safe plans and processes and had proven capable of conducting business in a safe and responsible way were whacked with Captain Caveman’s club.
Why? Because the state government had failed 3 fundamental parts of its deal with the Victorian public.
It had failed to manage quarantine, from where 99% of cases in the second wave originated.
It had failed to safeguard the elderly (in partnership with the Feds) and allowed the virus to run rampant through the aged care system.
And after six months, there were still doubts about the robustness of Victoria’s contact tracing system.
I play, you pay.
At least the curfew would be lifted. No, even that was retained. But hey, it would not kick in till 9pm so a walk around the block with my wife after dinner was now possible. Έλεος.
For the hundreds of thousands of Victorians not on the Government tit, who earn their wages in small and medium enterprises when customers are able to move about, the announcement was nothing short of devastating.
The costs of running our businesses keep mounting and if like myself you have been (effectively) shutdown since mid-March, the eventual road out, is looking a bit like having to fight D-Day after having swum the English Channel. For those not strong enough for the swim…
Can you tell me doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And why images of Detroit after the GFC, chills me to my feet?
The Premier was granted a $46,000 increase to his annual salary on July 1st this year and his Ministers – including Ms Mikakos – were granted a $37,000 increase. Good. I have always been an outspoken supporter of politicians being well remunerated.
But to, at the same time, commit thousands of Victorian households to economic purgatory,
is insane. To retain harsh lockdowns without so much as a skerrick of reward to people suffering mentally, is surely not prudent.
R U OK? Well now that you mention it.
If you’re Dick Pratt or Solomon Lew or even lucky enough to have a full time job, you may be doing just nicely. Democracy though, works a bit better when everyone can have a lick of the ice cream.
In total, 4 Australians under the age of fifty have died due to the virus. Medical professionals have written to the Premier imploring him to relent and offer some modest concessions.
Industry groups have pleaded for a chance to save their businesses and the fate of their employees’ jobs.
Nobody is wishing the virus away and we are all happy to put our shoulder to the wheel. But thess latest announcements feel awfully one sided.
Instead of even a small carrot we got more drones, surveillance, police patrols, fines and helicopters overhead at night. Is it already fire season?
Good luck Victoria. Good luck Melbourne. We’ll be needing it.