Darwin? The bars re-opened and that was all anyone cared about up there.
We were so sure that Premier Dan had asserted his leadership and had got through to everyone with those clear unambiguous messages. “Just stay home.” It should be appearing on a T-shirt soon – large white letters on your choice of 100 per cent pure cotton ethically sourced and sweat-shop free jet-black Tees, all sizes and shapes catered for – his, hers and theirs. With 10 per cent going to subsidise a renewable energy start-up powering sustainable community housing for stranded foreign students whose broken bicycles are preventing them from delivering the most amazing coconut water and kombucha cocktails with gluten-free kale-burger sliders.
Our biggest worry seemed to be whether the footy could get going again soon in order to keep those rugby league interlopers at bay. How could we make sense of the world if the only code on telly was … gasp… shock, horror … those human battering rams of some foreign code. But the people who really run Victoria – the AFL commissioners – put their collective wallets together and came up with a cobbled together random fixture that satisfied the most important stakeholders: the TV advertisers and their chosen network. Whew, it was a close call.
And then everything went pear shaped. SNAFU as they say in the military. And if you do not know what that stands for, the internet is but a click away.
For a day or two, we just smiled and felt completely safe that those scaredy cats in the Chief Medical Officer’s domain would quickly get this irritation under control. Remember, Victoria had been first responders to COVID-19 and we have always had high compliance with every other public health measure. We are a very obedient bunch – we were the first in the world to introduce compulsory seat belts in cars.
But day after day it got worse … and worse still. Security guards sharing cigarette lighters with people in quarantine? No, could not happen. Car pooling by private contractors? Romantic flirtation, even secret trysts, in five-star hotels between the “quarantinee” and the “quarantiner”? And then those extended family get-togethers and parties? What were they thinking?
Now we proffer to all Australia our sincere apologies. Not the type offered by Dyson Heydon. No – we mean an unconditional and full apology. Not “if we offended you” but an actual “we got it wrong and we will do better now”. We will snap out of our complacency and get tough on the test avoiders and compliance dodgers. We have to – and you will too.
Because as sure as night follows day, before this is over, there will be clusters and outbreaks elsewhere not just in the ethnically diverse and now locked down Northern and Western suburbs of Melbourne. Observe and learn, Australia. Where we are now is where you may be soon.
And then eventually after COVID-19 is dealt with, get ready – because we should expect COVID-21 or COVID-22 or COVID-25 and more.