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Should I or shouldn’t I? Navigating the end of lockdown.

She also worries about transmitting it to her parents, who are in their early 70s. “We don’t know enough about this awful virus … everything is just too up in the air, pardon the pun.”

Just as there is no manual for life in a pandemic, there is also no guide book on how to come out of it.

For some, the easing of restrictions this week was a desperately welcome respite from quarantine fatigue and the lonely ache of physical distancing. Invitations flowed for iso thaw drinks, soccer in the park and dinner parties.

But for others, it was too much, too soon. And different approaches to the lifting of restrictions can create tension between family members and friends.

Are those who embrace the new freedoms with gusto taking unnecessary risks that will imperil the population?

What about the mental health needs of those for whom being cooped up in isolation has caused psychological harm?

The Premier himself was equivocal, saying people still needed to be driven by logic and common sense and only go out when they really needed to.

He said he would not be visiting his own mum, much as he would like to.

“People will have to make deeply personal judgments about this and I’m not criticising anybody who makes a different judgment.”


Eventually, Ms Black told her mother she was reluctant to visit just yet. “She understands .. I think she was a little bit disappointed. We have been having catch-ups via video chat but it’s not the same.”

James Collett, a lecturer in psychology at RMIT, recommends open and honest communication when navigating how to approach the end of lockdown.

He suggests asking people whether they are comfortable coming over for dinner or their child having a playdate without imposing any pressure.

“Try to be as judgment free as possible,” Dr Collett says.

Veronica Sherman was keen to spend Mother’s Day with her four children.

However, she suggested they have dinner outside because one of her daughters had been isolating with another family.

“The rest of the kids groaned at me: ‘How dare I suggest that?’ It was not personal against her, I was trying to keep her in lockdown while still being realistic. The kids got a bit offended.”

Ms Sherman suggested the alfresco dinner to her daughter over text message. “So I couldn’t see any eye-rolling on her part, but I felt an undercurrent of eye-rolling.”

Ms Sherman said she had mixed feelings about the easing of restrictions the following day.

“I was happy because it meant it gave us a bit more flexibility but at the same time I did feel it was pre-emptive,” she says.

“I thought as a family we are going to have to decide for ourselves how we are going to approach this.”

Ms Sherman said her 13-year-old daughter, who had struggled the most in lockdown, wanted to see her best friend.

“I thought this was a do-able request – she didn’t go on public transport, it was just the two of them and it was very contained. I haven’t had any requests myself but I know some of the kids are wanting to catch up as a group and I wouldn’t allow that at this point.”

Victorians are now entering a period of transition where we are renegotiating social norms around how we interact with others, according to Barbara Barbosa Neves, a senior lecturer in sociology at Monash University.

“It’s OK to have concerns and we still have to be extremely cautious and think about the implications of getting together,” Dr Barbosa Neves says.

“However, we also have to be aware of the potential health impacts that might come from isolation and loneliness. My assumption based on some of the preliminary data shows most people do want to regain a sense of normalcy.”

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Dr Barbosa Neves says there has been some evidence of pandemic-shaming, especially online, directed at those perceived to be violating physical distancing rules.

“We know public shaming doesn’t work and leads to defensiveness and hostility,” she says. “It doesn’t prevent the behaviour, it usually has the opposite effect.”

Journalist and author McKay Coppins says the things we miss most about our pre-pandemic lives — dine-in restaurants and travel, karaoke nights and sport — require more than government permission to be enjoyed.

Governments can lift restrictions and companies can implement public-health protocols, he writes in The Atlantic.

“But until we stop reflexively seeing people as viral threats, those old small pleasures we crave are likely to remain elusive.”

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