Covid? What’s Covid? Oh that awful thing that plagued us for two years and is now… gone? Except it’s not gone… and though we’ve enjoyed a deliciously warm early start to summer here in Austria, it’s not even really trying to hide. Luckily, it has wound itself down so it’s not causing the kind of mayhem it did previously. But it’s still causing plenty of disruptions.
I know that if it hits me everything will be fine. But still, being pregnant I’m being extra careful. Because the numbers, despite the good weather, are a lot higher than they were this time last year. And I just need to get through two or so more weeks. So yeah, I’m still wearing my mask. I’m still social distancing.
When the pandemic first kicked off, the world went a little bit crazy stockpiling… the predominant of which seemed to be toilet paper. To me this made little sense. But I understand the theory behind it – the need to be able to control some aspect of something that feels out of your control.
Now two years on, despite Covid still lurking, we have calmed a little. Which is a good thing. But… what happened to all your stuff? Did you use it up… or is it still sitting in a spare room or at the back of the pantry, gathering dust or going off? In one way toilet paper is not the worst contender – it doesn’t have a use by. But what about the rest? What about the yeast? Did all those people who decided, on a sudden whim, that they would buy yeast because they were going to bake their own bread… did they do it… or did they do it once and the rest went to waste?
The pandemic has taken plenty away from me: general socialisation, the chance to see friends and family back home, the opportunity to travel, and so on. But I count myself lucky, because I’m surviving ok – I’m pretty happy in my bubble, I’ve been able to work without the hassle of the commute, and I’m in the wrong age group to constantly need to go out on the town.
But I can’t help thinking how it might have been, in another place, in another time.
The world is abuzz with the news that it’s actually going to happen… Australia is finally talking about opening its international borders. I’ve been hearing murmurings for a while, but when it hit globally the other day, a number of people got in touch to spread the love. It even made it to Austrian news, so you know it’s big.
Except I can’t help but feel a little bit cynical about the whole thing.
Many countries in the last months have been dealing with the rocky ride of transitioning out of hard lockdown into something a bit more normal. In Austria, the official date was May 19th. And yes, I took the afternoon off work to go to the pool… and yes, it was freezing but I went anyway.
With the opening of the restaurants and so on, they introduced the 3G rule. That is… Getestet, Geimpft oder Gesund. Basically if you want to eat at a restaurant, have a haircut, visit a pool or lake etc. you have to be able prove that you have either a valid negative Covid test, have been vaccinated (3+ weeks) or have recovered from Covid (in the last 6 months).
With the news of Victoria’s flash seven day hard lockdown last week, I’m reminded again what a yoyo of an experience this whole thing has really been. On one side I’m in Europe where measures against Covid were relatively mild… and I say relatively because the flip side of that coin was Australia where life in my home state basically stood still for months on end. At first I was thankful I was in Europe, where we were coming into summer and were safe – this thing would be over soon. It was lucky I wasn’t stuck in Australia in a hard-core lockdown. That would be awful. But then it flipped again. Europe hit the cooler months and Covid raged… while in Australia it was back to business as usual.
And there’s these words I keep hearing again and again… it’s not so bad…
In any other year, a tickly throat or a headache or a strange taste in your mouth would usually be overlooked. I’m just run down, you’d justify. Or maybe I’m getting a cold. Welcome to Corona time, where every miniscule symptom has your guts knotted in a vague but never-quite-gone panic.
Recently, I donated blood, and a day or so later, I got a headache. My standard response to this would be, oh well, something to do with the loss of iron/blood or in fact, just nothing at all. Because… well… headaches happen for multitudes of reasons, and sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.
As my home state, Victoria, warms up and prepares to finally emerge from their strict Covid lockdown bubble (of a crazy 100+ days), Europe heads into winter, and what we all suspect would happen is happening. On Saturday, Austria clocked an astounding 3000+ new infections. There are measures in place, and talk of more, but when I think back to March, when new infection numbers were in the low 100s, it seems crazy that no one is freaking out now in a much bigger way.
I have heard in the last days about some low-level panic buying, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the same amount of anxiety there was the first time… even though things are significantly worse. In some ways it’s good – being prepared and being safe is one thing, but full on panic helps no one. But in other ways it’s terrifying – have we all become complacent – do we not believe there was ever any danger, or are we just adapting to living in a world during a pandemic?
I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia. If you haven’t heard, Victoria (the state where Melbourne is located), is currently in the middle of a pretty serious lockdown. This was even reported in Austrian news, which means, it’s huge. Melbourne is now in week 4 of a six week planned lockdown, but from the numbers it seems like they’re going to be stuck in there longer.
In my town the opening of the local outdoor swimming pool was delayed by two weeks due to COVID-19. You might already know I’m a keen swimmer. You might also already know that I’m no stranger to overdoing it. Living in a land with a swimming pool that’s only open for 3.5 months per year just exacerbates my desire to make the most of the season and swim as much as possible. So what happens when Coronavirus wipes two weeks off that measly 3.5 months… what do I do, you ask?