Our Covid-19 restrictions continue. While we were on the eve of moving on to Stage 1 restrictions, we have been stuck in Stage 2 with some concern that we may also be further restricted. People living in some specific Melbourne postcodes have been pushed back to Stage 3 conditions.
The numbers of new cases being identified in Victoria have been high over the last week (between 70 – 100 new cases each day). Some of those increases may be a result of a temporary and very aggressive testing regime which would certainly expose greater numbers. Donald Trump doesn’t like testing because it makes his numbers look bad, but I’m glad glad that we are doing so much as we really need to know where we stand with this thing.
The government has completely locked down all of Melbourne’s high-rise public housing blocks and we have hundreds of police officers ensuring that people do not leave their apartments. This must be very hard on the people who live there. They come from diverse ethnic and low socio-economic backgrounds and many have special needs.
I have just heard an announcement that our border with NSW will be closed from tomorrow. That leaves Victoria isolated and we feel something like the lepers of the country. Travel is now allowed between all other states but ours. If it’s any consolation for people who may like to get away for a few days, Victoria is a very beautiful and compact state with many diverse environments within just a couple of hours travel from Melbourne. I think we should actually have seperate restriction regimes in place in country areas where there are almost no reported cases of the virus as compared to Melbourne where it is much more prevalent.
There appears to be two contributing factors to this worsening situation and both seem to me to lie at the feet of our state government.
Firstly, and thankfully, it seems that we have not had a major explosion of the virus after the Black Lives Matter protests a few weeks ago. However, the fact that the government allowed the protest to go ahead with impunity has changed the attitude of Victorians. Before the protest, we had been locked down in our homes for several weeks with high levels of anxiety over contact with others. Allowing crowds to attend that protest signalled that isolation didn’t matter anymore so people have been far less concerned. In a brief visit to the shopping mall over the weekend it was clear to me that social distancing wasn’t happening at all any more. Young men are the worst offenders.
Secondly, the virus has escaped from those isolated in hotels for a compulsory two-week period after returning from overseas. Returning overseas travellers previously provided the highest number of virus cases that we were experiencing. For some reason the government hired incompetent security companies to guard the hotel facilities in which these people were meant to be isolated. It appears there was little training and adherence to safety procedures and protocols. It is reported that one security guard even had sex with one of those confined. These security guards then took the virus to their homes and their families who have then spread the infection across the community. Some of these families had very large gatherings which were inconsistent with our state of emergency health regulations. I have written to the Premier asking him what action he intends to take with these security companies but I doubt that I will get a reply. If I do, I suspect that it will only contain a lot of ‘spin’ anyway.
Anyway, our life goes on. Many things have become routine and simple things such as outings and Zoom sessions make a difference.
We are now well into winter. Our lawns are not growing much but the cabbages, broccoli and cauliflowers in my veggie garden are doing well. It seems ironic that the weeping apricot tree in our front garden is already in full bloom. It always has its blossom early and it makes one bright spot in our winter garden. I have some more seedlings to plant in my vegetable garden but the grey drizzly weather over the last couple of days has made it too unattractive to be outside for long.
We are still spending most of our time lying low at home although we did get out one day to have lunch with my cousin, Ian. He and I used to catch up once each month but we haven’t seen each other for a few months. We had one sunny day early in the week so Jill and I packed up a thermos flask and drove over to Jells Park for an outdoor cup of coffee. This park was one of the first large regional parks to be established in Melbourne. It covers around 127 hectares and contains 9 kilometres of paths for cycling and walking,. The park opened in 1976 and is named after Joseph Jell, a cattle grazier who worked in the area in the mid-late 1800s.
My cooking continues and we have found a few new recipes to enjoy. We have had a couple of delicious meals of kangaroo with a raspberry glaze as well as barramundi ( a delicious native fish) wrapped in proscuito with lentils and wilted spinach. In light of any potentially increased restrictions we have been careful to keep our pantry full. We have not been panic buying by any means – just ensuring that the fridge and pantry are stocked at their normal levels.
I spent one day this week binge watching four episodes of a video series on Amazon Prime about the life of A.B. Facey. He wrote an autobiography called ‘A Fortunate Life’. Bert Facey grew up in the West Australian bush in the late 1800s, He was deserted by his mother at the age five and grew up under very arduous and distressing circumstances. He taught himself how to read and write. He was badly wounded in WW1 at Gallipoli. He married in 1916 and was happily married for over 60 years until his wife died in 1976 although they lost their eldest son in WW2. The video series was made in 1985 but it was so good, that I couldn’t stop watching it. We visited Bert Facey’s humble cottage at a little wheat growing town called Wickepin in WA on a previous trip. It had been moved from its original rural location into the town and is now a key tourist attraction.
While I have been watching videos, Jill has been working on a jigsaw. She has proudly completed a 1000 piece puzzle of a garden scene in the Netherlands and is now working on a 1500 piece one.
I continue to cancel some more of the travel bookings arhat I originally made in January. The first of the refunds reached my credit card this week so now I have to work out how to get the money back into my bank account. I only have refunds from three other planned trips to receive.