As I have said in one of my previous blog posts, the State of Victoria has endured one of the longest lockdowns in the world. All was going well until mid June when incompetent security companies and their guards spread the virus from hotels that were hosting travellers who were in compulsory lockdown after returning from overseas. For over 15 weeks we have been confined to our homes, apart from being able to go shopping for food and essential items once per day, and we have not been able to have visitors in our house.
The government announced that the path out of our lockdown was to achieve a rolling 14 day average of new cases that was less than five new cases each day. In the middle of August, the average number of new cases was 430 new cases per day. A target of five new cases per day seemed to be simply impossible. However, with the draconian provisions of this lockdown, we have achieved it! Today we actually had zero new infections and the rolling 14 day average number of new cases is down to 3.6. As much as we have grumbled about the severity of this lockdown, it has done its job.
Our Premier announced today, that from Wednesday, our shops, pubs and restaurants will reopen – albeit with very small numbers of patrons, and we no longer need an approved reason to leave home. For the next 10 days, we are still restricted to travelling only 25 km away from home. From November 8, our travel restrictions will disappear completely and Melburnians will be able to travel to Regional Victoria which is almost totally free of the virus. I hope that it is not too long after then that the other states will open their borders to us.
In anticipation of the government announcing a release from our lockdown destruction restrictions, we ordered another online meal last Sunday that could be reheated and served at home. This time, it came from a restaurant called Supernormal and was a mix of Japanese fusion dishes that were simply delicious. They were easily as good as the other meals we have had to celebrate special occasions. I don’t know whether these restaurants will continue this form of home delivery after the lockdown has concluded. I hope they do as we will certainly buy more of these meals while the numbers of people who can dine in at a restaurant is so restricted.
The opening up that was announced today was frustratingly delayed because of an outbreak within a number of immigrant/refugee families in our northern suburbs. It seems that they were genuinely trying to follow the restriction guidelines but the government Department of Health only communicated to them in English (which was clearly their second language) and they were confused by not understanding the difference between the words ‘isolation’ and ‘quarantine’. They also received conflicting advice from different people in the Health Department about isolating and leaving their home.
Fair dinkum, this government department, which also stuffed up the hotel quarantine program, couldn’t run a chook raffle. They just can’t get it right. People have been told ten days after they received a positive test that they should’ve been isolating three weeks earlier. Some people weren’t told to self isolate for many weeks after they were exposed to the virus.
A chook raffle, as we all know, is an Australian tradition of “raffling off” a “chook”, (an Australian slang term for a chicken), in pubs and clubs. The chook raffle is often used as a fund-raising activity by an amateur club or organisation whose members frequent the pub.
Having the bureaucrats run a chook raffle would probably start with a meeting to determine the make-up of a committee to run the raffle. Then there would be another meeting to plan the policy and procedures as to how the raffle would be conducted. By then it would be 4.48 pm and the committee would have to finish work for the day. Overnight, they would have discovered that a number of minority groups were not represented on the committee (dwarfs and albino aborigines), so the committee would have to be re-formed. It would take another day to contact the appropriate government departments to find representatives of these minority groups and engage them on the committee. They would then find that the raffle tickets were not printed by an approved trade union printer so tenders would have to be let for the printing of new tickets. Of course, the Weights and Measures Department would take another day, or so, to verify that the weight of the chook was actually as described on the label. Finally, the committee’s recommendations would have to be approved by the Department Secretary, but she wouldn’t be available because she was in a meeting that was determining a way to provide welfare to legless limbo dancers and one-handed banjo players. By now, the chook would have either thawed and become inedible or the publican would have taken the chicken home and cooked it on the barbecue. That would be a reason to form another government committee to determine the source of the salmonella outbreak!
Our Bureau of Meteorology tells us that we have now entered a La Niña weather pattern. This occurs in the Pacific Ocean when strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface westwards from South America to Eastern Australia. This results in cooler days and increased rain. Our water storages are now more full than they have been for the last six or seven years. Over the weekend we had more than 40 mm of rain. This is a real contrast
to the drought that we have experienced over the last three years.
We managed to beat the rain on Friday and have a picnic in the park with our granddaughters; the first time that we have seen them for a few months. We were lucky to find a picnic table even though park was exceptionally busy. There was hardly a free car parking space and I have never seen it that busy before. Clearly, people are enjoying the outdoors after having been locked up for so long. It was a wonderful day and we really enjoyed it. After lunch, we walked along to a point on the river where there was a series of rapids and found that with all this rain, the river was flowing very fast.
Saturday was very wet so we stayed indoors and watched the grand final of the AFL football competition at night. Because of the virus restrictions in Victoria, all the teams in the competition have relocated interstate and continued the season’s matches in other places. I am very happy that my team, the Richmond Tigers, were victorious in a very hard fought match. On Sunday night I watched the rugby league final between the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers. That was a really rugged game but I don’t understand the rules of rugby very well. Sunday was still cool. I managed to get out for a walk in the afternoon and I was surprised at the number of people who were still picnicking in the park on such a cool and windy day.
Seeing that we can now be away from home for an unlimited period, today, we bought a sandwich at the local cafe and took it down to the park for lunch. Afterwards we went for a drive through some of the nearby countryside (Always staying with in a 25 km radius from home). This took us through Kangaroo Ground and across to Yarra Glen. We did not realise that we had mistakenly entered Regional Victoria in doing this as when we came back through the little town of Coldstream, we drove through the police checkpoint where unauthorised people were being stopped from entering Regional Victoria. We had no trouble returning back into the metropolitan area but we simply didn’t realise that our route had taken us into an area where we were not supposed to be.
Now that our travel restrictions will be removed from November 8, we have decided to do a trip that we had to cancel in the middle of the year. We will go back to Apollo Bay and then down to Warrnambool to
see one of my old army mates. This will give us a few days away. We have missed travelling so much.
Today is the one year anniversary of Jill’s life-saving surgery in Sylva, North Carolina. We look back on that experience with mixed emotions. On one hand, it was obviously a very scary time and I wouldn’t like to have to go through that again. On the other hand, it provided an opportunity for us to catch up with Mike and Judy along with Rebecca and Tony who are some American friends that we don’t get to see nearly as much as we would like to. We are also very thankful that we still have contact with some wonderful people from the Baptist Church in Sylva who took us under their wing and supported us. Just thinking about their friendship still makes me feel quite emotional.
We are now picking broad beans which were one of the first vegetables that we planted in our first lockdown, back in June.
Our kitchen window ledge still provides a very convenient plant nursery for us.
I really hope that the light that we see at the end of the tunnel is a positive future for us in a new Covid-normal environment. I read about the severity of the virus in the USA and Europe and hope that this light at the end of the tunnel is not the headlight of a freight train coming towards us with all its noise and danger.