Melburnians will remember life during the world’s longest lockdown

Melbourne once held the title of ‘top’ city in the world to live in. Today, it makes global headlines, for another reason. It is the city that has spent the most time under lockdown across the world in an attempt to eliminate, and later suppress the spread of COVID-19.

With 262 days spent by Melburnians stuck at home under stay-at-home orders since the start of the pandemic ended at midnight on Thursday with the easing of restrictions following the sixth lockdown, which had initially been announced as a series of snap restrictions to last for only a few days. Instead, weeks and months passed before Victoria reached a sufficient rate of vaccination in the community to allow the city to open up safely.

As the latest longest lockdown came to an end, members of our community shared their thoughts with Neos Kosmos. They spoke of their challenges and how they coped under the harsh measures, that put their life on hold.

READ MORE: Lockdown to end sooner than planned

Much to celebrate when we reopen

Chris Drossos leads a fast-paced life, working passionately for a charity organisation and enjoying to a huge extent the shows and cultural events that Melbourne has to offer. Lockdown of course brought everything to a halt.

But as Mr Drossos told Neos Kosmos, during this period he has felt “surprisingly calm and fine”.

“I do acknowledge though, and sympathise with those that are suffering. But personally, I miss nothing. I have discovered other things to do, that I don’t usually get a chance to do, which has helped fill any voids that I may have experienced. Financially I have saved more money than ever considering I missed two overseas trips. I have maintained my job and was only stood down for a couple of weeks and I was very grateful for the government handout at the time.

Emotionally I’m fine. I’m loving the different pace and change of lifestyle. I know it’s temporary so I’m enjoying it. I am most worried about my health, and others who are suffering and missing out on key experiences in their lives. Their first year at Uni, the last year of High School, sports competitions, milestone birthdays. There’ll be so much to celebrate when we reopen. Throughout the lockdown I have kept in contact with my friends, discovered brilliant TV shows, read brilliant comics.

The thing that has frustrated me the most is the misinformation and the willingness of people to succumb to it and their lack of effort in researching facts.

I am grateful to the government for trying to keep our loved ones alive and I’m sorry that so many in society are causing deliberate havoc. I would like to add that they shouldn’t prioritise Sports over the Arts. If I could send a message to the future, it would be… The truth.

“Emotionally I’m fine. I’m loving the different pace and change of lifestyle. I know it’s temporary so I’m enjoying it,” Chris Drossos tells us. Photo: Supplied

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Mental challenges and memories of Greece

Eleni Papavasileiou migrated to Australia with her family a few years ago and today she works in a museum in Melbourne. Throughout the lockdown she has been overwhelmed with mixed emotions, and worn out by the length of it. Most of all she misses Greece, her family there; the freedom of movement and being spontaneous.

I’m happy about the progress with the vaccinations, but, on the other hand, I feel annoyed that it took so long. I am sad that we can’t be with our families in Greece, but at the same time I feel grateful that we are all healthy.

Mentally this year has been more challenging. Mainly because no one expected the situation to continue this year and because, inevitably, we compare what is happening in other parts of the world, in terms of the speed of vaccination and getting back to some normality.

The cost was certainly financial as well. My days were reduced, as the sector I work in has been affected significantly. I consider us lucky that we did not find ourselves in a worse situation.

What worries me is that we are yet to know when we will be able to travel to Greece and what travelling will be like in the future between the two, and other countries.

Work has helped as a creative outlet, and in keeping a routine. We have spent this time walking, playing games, watching movies, skyping with family and friends in Greece, and meeting up with friends here wherever it was permitted. Support and understanding has been very important, as it is hard for others outside of Melbourne to feel how we have experienced all of this. From the government I would ask that they consider a more flexible and adaptive reality. Vaccines, measures and caution, but isolation cannot continue to be enforced with every outbreak. A message my 8-year-old son would like to send to the future is: “I hate the coronavirus, but we did it!”

Concerns about the permanency of changes

Lockdown had a profound emotional impact on Maria Panagiotopoulou, who owns the beauty salon Moroccan Beauty in Richmond.

I’m feeling exhausted and just frustrated with everything. Some people have really changed and it makes me sad! I miss the simple things in life the most, like having lunch with friends, seeing my family, having people over, shopping for fashion in a store where I can try things on! And I miss my friends that I can’t see.

Lockdown has affected my small business financially as I started renovating my room when it all began, but I’m lucky that my husband could help. If I had a business out there, I would have lost it for sure. Emotionally it’s really drained me. I’m pretty strong but I feel worn out as I try my best to give back as much as I can. I feel very sad for so many people out there, and it’s hard to keep positive some days! I am most worried that we have changed forever! I am worried for our children and what they have missed out on and what the future holds for them, and worried on how divided we have become! I’m very frustrated hearing about this virus every day, and Dan Andrews treating us like we’re ignorant. To stay positive I try to go for a walk with my dog every morning, be with my family when we don’t drive each other crazy!! support small businesses where I can, talk to positive people, watch feel-good movies and work on my renovations. I would like to ask the government to see the damage they have done to the community having the longest lockdowns in the world. We will have a bigger problem than COVID as so many people are bleeding. 2020 was the beginning of many changes! People were made accountable in many ways. That would be the message I would send to the future and also that It’s the small things in life that makes us happy.

“It’s the small things in life that make us happy.,” is Maria Panagiotopoulos message. Photo: Supplied


READ MORE: Greek Orthodox church of Thomastown among tier 1 COVID-19 exposure sites in Victoria

Surviving COVID means you can survive anything

Athina Andrikopoulou turned 11-years-old, a few days before the last lockdown was announced across Victoria, and like many students, has spent most of the last two years attending school remotely, detached from her teacher and peers.

I feel different every day and some days I have many different feelings. These emotions range from being okay, to feeling sad. Sometimes I get angry, bored, and even frustrated at times. I’m missing my friends and my team sports. I worry that we may be stuck at home forever and still get sick from COVID.

What frustrates me most is when people do not follow the rules, so we can all be safe, and get back to school.

What I could never imagine doing, is maths online, which is not easy, as well as sport classes and karate online. It is not the same!

If I could say something to the government it would be that “‘I’m glad I don’t have to do your job!”.
Athina believes that after this experience we can achieve anything as her message to the future is just that: “Don’t worry… You will find a way to achieve anything because you got through COVID and most importantly lockdowns.

11-year-old Athina celebrates Book Week remotely. Photo: Supplied