I said to our teenagers: “You realise that you’re living through quite possibly the defining moment of the 21st century, don’t you? You know that one day, one of your grandchildren will ask you what the COVID-19 year was like?”
They marvelled at this concept, but it didn’t blunt the pain of birthday parties without invited guests and the monotony of isolation as it ate an even greater hole in 2020.
The slowdown has been challenging for most of us. It’s taken lives and landed quite a number of Canberrans in hospital with severe symptoms. The resultant restrictions have pushed scores of businesses to the brink of bankruptcy and it’s inevitable that it’ll push some over the edge.
Despite the intent and the mammoth scale of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker packages, a number of individuals have not been sufficiently cushioned after losing their jobs which has been pretty rough.
But through it all, we’ve adapted. And some of the changes have been positive.
When I go bike riding on the paths around Tuggeranong, I’m astounded by the number of individuals and families who’ve been out exercising together in the last five weeks or so. They weren’t doing this last year. Although the restrictions have placed pressure on many, they’ve also succeeded in bringing some families together.
When you’re locked up in a house with two, four or six others for a number of weeks you learn a bit about each other. There’s only so much Netflix and TikTok you can watch before you go stir crazy, and if that results in more families out together enjoying the sunshine, it’s gotta be a good thing.
I had personally put on a bit of weight in the last 12 months, but I’ve lost most of it in the last 6 weeks through more running, walking and cycling, and I’m not alone.
Those of us who really enjoy cooking up a storm in the kitchen have also had a field day. I’ve experimented with new things and those in my house have loved it. And this is despite the fact that my personal workload hasn’t ended up decreasing by much over the slowdown period.
Our dogs have loved it. For our two kelpies, the COVID-19 slowdown has been the best time of their lives. There’s always someone at home for them and there’s much more time for walks, throwing the ball and having cuddles. For many people who live alone, their dog or their cat has been a literal lifesaver.
And the traffic .. or lack thereof?
I drove into work from Theodore on Wednesday morning in just 22 minutes in ‘peak hour’. Driving around the city has become really cruisy. Prior to COVID-19 I’d never been brave enough to take the big Wentworth Avenue roundabout or the Ashley Drive/Erindale Drive roundabout while riding the bike, but that’s changed in recent weeks.
We’re all counting down the days until the end of restrictions but I’m sure we’ll all be cursing about the traffic pretty quickly after everybody gets back to work.
My wife’s family are all overseas and she’s been devastated by having to cancel one of her trips ‘back home’, but the crisis has resulted in an endless stream of family Zoom conferences, so much so that she’s convinced they’ve never spent so much time together.
It goes without saying that we all want things back to normal as quickly as possible, but it hasn’t been all bad.
What’s the best thing to come out of the crisis for you?
Mark Parton is a Liberal MLA in the seat of Brindabella. He is contesting the forthcoming ACT election.