How many of us thought that 2021 would be different to the previous year which was so consumed with the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Here in my home state of Victoria we are currently in a snap five-day hard lockdown with Level 4 restrictions because of issues with the emergence of the UK strain believed to have come from someone in quarantine. After several weeks of doughnut days as per my previous posts we are once again confined to barracks even in regional areas where we have no cases. It came as a shock to many businesses in my rural community and many events were cancelled.
Thankfully, two hours before the announcement, I had stocked up on essentials including toilet paper. Sadly, supermarkets had to implement limits on certain items again because of panic buying. The authorities seem to have the cases under control now but with one more day to go, one can never be sure with such an infectious virus. On the eve of the lockdown, we joined good friends and neighbours for dinner and drinks. If COVID has taught us anything it is better to accept invitations when you can!
My home has certainly become my castle during COVID. I am fortunate to share it with my husband who has plenty to do keeping 25 acres under control and my much indulged cat Rambo. We are surrounded by hills and trees which attract a wide range of native birds and animals such as wombats and kangaroos. There is also plenty of black Angus cattle in our neighbouring paddocks and cows are just starting to calve.
No pandemic will ever be long enough for me to get through all the books on my shelves that are waiting to be read or to complete those craft projects started with good intentions.
I am hoping that as news breaks this week of a vaccination rollout in Australia and overseas, that while life may still be governed by COVID to a certain extent there will be a return to normal activities. That may mean sharing my home with a wider group of family and friends. May your home always be your castle not a prison.
The humble doughnut has come to represent hope in a time when it was thought the number of coronavirus cases would continue well into the new year here in Victoria following a second wave outbreak in early August. That sweet treat with the all important round hole signals 0 new cases, 0 days without any community transmitted outbreaks and 0 deaths. More than 60 days later we are enjoying triple 0 statistics mostly and a significant easing of restrictions by our government. It is a testament to so many who did follow the rules and were prepared to wear masks when out in public to fight this sneaky enemy.
While life has returned to some semblance of normality here in our rural retreat the shadow of COVID lingers in the way we interact with one another. I managed a trip across the NSW border two weeks ago before Christmas to visit my Mum for the first time since February.
Four days later I was applying on line for a permit to get back into my home state of Victoria from regional NSW. The second most populous city in Australia which had been COVID-free for some time recorded new community transmissions raising alarm for the state government and health officials. These relatively small number of cases compared to those occurring overseas are connected to clusters in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and the Central Coast area. In the last 24 hours the number has doubled to 18 with a new cluster discovered. We know too well here in Victoria how quickly the virus spread during the second wave.
Our tourist town is overflowing with visitors this week – I tried to walked down a packed street yesterday. Eateries which are struggling to get enough staff for the busy times, were advising 45 minutes to one hour wait for food due to the sheer number of people and having to abide by COVID safe restrictions. After several months of lock down city people are holidaying closer to home but it is still difficult for many of us locals to adapt to the overwhelming busyness of our small town after almost a year.
The wearing of masks is only mandatory in certain cases but causes confusion for the out of towners. Our supermarkets and hard ware store require the wearing of masks but many shoppers seem to be ignoring this rule. I was told that staff cannot enforce the mask wearing rule. Our shopping centre might be small compared to the huge malls and centres in Melbourne, but our well being in regional Victoria matters too. With the NSW outbreak the coronavirus reminds us that it is not disappearing any time soon.
May we enter the New Year with a sense of gratitude for those good things in our lives and be willing to be kinder and more understanding of fellow humans who are doing it tough. The world needs a huge virtual hug! My other wish for 2021 is doughnut days in abundance across the globe.
PS. Would you believe it, only 30 minutes after I wrote this post, news came through that Victoria had recorded its first three community transmitted cases of COVID in 60 days. These new cases are linked to the Sydney infections. I guess this just reinforces what I was saying about COVID still hanging over all of us. Take care out there.