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?
Here in Austria we’re slowly easing out of restrictions, and with that life returns to a semblance of normal.
Our first Hofer shop after two months took up the entire belt (not previously achieved). Even though we were getting irregular grocery deliveries during lockdown, we had purchased mainly necessities, so it was necessary to stock up.
It’s been 30 days since we put ourselves in lockdown: 30 days since I went into a shop, 30 days since I had to think about filling the car with petrol, 30 days since I had contact with someone closer than 2-3 metres, 30 days since I wore a bra other than a sports bra (oh, happy days). I drove the car for the first time yesterday, but only to visit the in-laws for an Easter beer in the garden… naturally keeping our distance.
It’s been 10 days since I had close contact with anyone apart from my hubby, visited a shop or left the house for anything but exercise. With Coronavirus’s alleged 5-7 day average for symptoms to show, right now I am fairly comfortable in assuming that we are in the clear. That means we’ve kept ourselves safe, and haven’t contributed to spreading it around
Which is good, because since my post last week we now have reported cases here in my little town. The latest nationwide update brings the total to over 4000.
A lot of people in Australia have been asking me what’s going on here in Austria. Well here’s the latest.