13 August 2021

Fleeing lockdown? What were you thinking?

| Ian Bushnell
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Coast traffic on Nelligan bridge

Coast traffic on Nelligan bridge on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Kellie Whittington.

If you’re one of those Canberrans who fled the capital as soon as the COVID lockdown was announced, shame on you.

Yesterday afternoon a convoy of vehicles lined the Kings Highway on the way to their coastal bolt holes or hastily booked accommodation to wait out some or all of the seven-day period.

Sure, you may not have been anywhere near the list of contact sites, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t come into contact with someone else who was.

This is delta, super transmissible, a threat to young and old alike, and even in some cases vaccine-resistant.

How will you feel if you start to show symptoms in a few days and realise that due to your selfishness, this dangerous variant has made its way to the South Coast, expanding the virus’s reach?

What part of the Chief Minister’s message to go home and stay there didn’t you understand?

Why did you feel you were exempted from doing what the rest of Canberra felt obliged to do?

Didn’t you consider what the people of the South Coast might think about a sudden influx of people from the latest COVID hot spot?

When your lot swamped testing sites on the coast when you got down there yesterday, didn’t you realise that your actions undermined the very purpose of the lockdown?

And just because you might be lucky to have a holiday home down there doesn’t make you a local, no matter how much you might say you’re supporting struggling local businesses.

READ MORE COVID-lockdown panic buying sets in across Canberra, toilet paper the first target

Canberrans had been counting their blessing while the other capitals and regions succumbed to lockdowns, with some even joking that the much-maligned bubble was keeping us safe.

But many of us, and the government, knew that it was becoming harder and harder to avoid the fallout from Sydney where ‘go early, go hard’ has been spurned for a peculiarly NSW approach.

How’s that working for you, Gladys?

Mr Barr wasn’t about to make the same mistake and could not have been any clearer about what Canberrans needed to do.

The only issue is why he left the lockdown until 5:00 pm, giving the entitled plenty of time to beat it to the coast.

OK, there may be practical reasons to give people some reasonable notice, but COVID flight seems to be a recurring theme of lockdown announcements as people flee to safe havens, unaffected areas or other states.

You might even still work from down there, and I bet the laptop was one of the first things packed.

Hell, being a forward-thinking organised Canberran usually relied on to hit your targets, you may have been already kitted up, ready to go when the inevitable happened.

Enjoy your freedom but remember this: it’s not just taking COVID with you that’s possible, you could also bring it back.

All in this together?

Note that some of the ones you left behind have kept their dignity.

The panic shopping that marked yesterday afternoon was ridiculous.

queues in coles Woden past the toilet paper

Canberrans rushed to the supermarkets despite being told that supermarkets will remain stocked throughout the lockdown. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Being told there was no need to stock up seemed only to feed the fervour as frantic shoppers poured into supermarkets, forming long queues.

So you may want to toss an extra pack of loo paper in the 4WD before heading back, just in case.

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Do you think they’re all rushing back now that all of NSW is in lockdown? lol!

Why is anyone surprised at this? Look at what Sydney siders have been up to in so called lockdown. People won’t stay put no matter what penalties you put in place.

HiddenDragon8:21 pm 13 Aug 21

There’s an obvious revenue opportunity here for a cash-strapped government which will be running up more debt to cover the costs of this outbreak – apply the empty house rates penalty, on a pro-rata basis, to homes which are left vacant when the owners nick off from Canberra to avoid a bit of inconvenience.

We have no shortage of informants who would probably be itching to provide details to the ACT Revenue Office.

It’s a week maybe two not a year. Don’t people keep a pantry of dry goods and non perishables especially after last year? No shelves in the laundry for toilet paper, etc?

Some people live from pay to pay and stocking a full pantry would be a struggle and with a family of five, some of us don’t have a shelf in our laundry for toilet paper! We do have a few rolls on top of our loo but I have not so fond memories of last year when we had no toilet paper in our house for almost a weeks with toilet training (twin) 3 year olds…We did, however refrain from panic buying but I can understand others who did. I didn’t go because I saw a fast forward to 10 days where all those supermarkets are now suddenly hotspots.

People don’t have to buy all the stock at once. A few tins, an extra packet of toilet paper and slowly increase the stock. Best done when things are on special. That’s what I do. I bought several packets of porridge recently at 50% off for example. You say people can’t afford this, but suddenly they can now, when it’s not on special and will cost more.

old canberran1:50 pm 13 Aug 21

Thank you for you accurate and sensible article Ian. I live on the Far South Coast near Merimbula and have just been to our local Woolies. Panic buying is there already, the toilet paper is all gone and people are walking out with 2 and 3 trollies piled high. They are not locals. No doubt the virus will be next and we will be in lockdown again.

ChrisinTurner1:35 pm 13 Aug 21

Most people shop for less than 7 days, so people were buying to avoid shopping during lockdown. Having the kids at home means you need more food. Even people who shop for 7 days are going to miss a shop. Besides the shops want their perishable stuff off the shelves. Not a panic.

ChrisinTurner, was the virus inactive until 5 PM? Why should anyone miss a shop later? It appears many people thought it safer to shop en masse on Thursday, mostly maskless, among unknown and not-isolated carriers, rather than quietly during lockdown? This morning the local supermarket carpark was only half full so shopping was a breeze, as I expect it will be next week. Yes, there was stock on the shelves, more coming in. Shopping on Thursday was not merely panic, it was riskier than it ever will be in coming days.

I haven’t eaten since Wednesday night. Thursday is my shopping day but I need assistance to go to the shops right now because of an injury and although we tried for an hour we couldn’t get in the door and my friend had to leave to return to her kids. I don’t know when I will be able to get food now.

Deborah Lynn Willenbrecht2:16 pm 13 Aug 21

Have your circumstances changed and you’ve been shopping? If not, where are you? Let me know what you need and I can get some basics for you – I’m well stocked so won’t need to go to the shop.

Well said. So you who ‘fled’ the lockdown are just as likely to both become a victim and put others at risk. So selfish.

I can understand some of the buying frenzy yesterday. I was out doing a small shop when the hordes descended. Once I realised we were going into a lock down, I bought additional items to last the 7 days, so that I could avoid having to risk going out. I also filled my car with petrol. I was hoping to avoid the necessity of exposing myself or family members unnecessarily to Covid19. There is also a real possibility of rising case numbers. I did not buy toilet paper or pasta sauce, or multiples of the same item – just what we needed for the rest of the week. Many others including my 93 yr old father, were out doing the same. Even though I only had a small basket full of groceries, I was approached by a woman at my local supermarket who yelled at me saying ‘what’s wrong with you people? The shops will be open tomorrow you know!” I’d like to think many people were doing the same as I and that we can all try to show kindness and understanding in these troubled times. You never know what other people are dealing with…..

Hi, worrells – can’t see one issue with what you did and had you bought toilet paper, I’m sure you would have done so responsibly. The funny thing is the people who actually need toilet paper, and let’s not forget up until Wed afternoon we had no idea what was happening, are the one’s feeling guilty – yet those who have their trolley full of (perhaps metaphorically full as there was no need to buy it) toilet paper have no guilt or decency whatsoever

I agree, shame on them.

And unfortunately yet again an example of why the public can’t be trusted.

I do not like the government having to control the public, but it is understandable when we have people like these.

Amen, Spiral – and I am not being sarcastic and suggesting you are preacing. Your last para in particular is spot on.

Agree. Unfortunately we cannot control the behaviour of some individuals. But let’s not forget the many who work in Canberra & live in close by nsw regions who also took off to their holiday homes (after hearing about the shutdown)…..under the cover of NSW plates. No state or territory is “Robinson Crusoe” with this behaviour

Great article, Ian and oh so true. I agree with your point about 5:00pm giving these rats time to jump ship, but I assume (there’s your opening Chewy) there are logistical reasons for this. At least we’ve departed from the previous “convention” that was applied here and in other jurisdictions – “From 11:59pm tonight …”.

The way the government announces the lockdown and the rules they put in place made this an obvious decision for many.

How can you blame people for trying make the best of a bad situation?

OMG Chewy, as surely as night follows day, you are there to blame the ACT govt. for doing … ummm … errr … what exactly was wrong with the way the govt announced the lockdown. Please pray tell – how would have you handled the announcement?

Not actually blaming the government here, just saying people leaving was an obvious reaction and you can’t blame them.

The same has happened in other states, the government is in a no win situation. I don’t fault them at all either.

My bad Chewy, but please forgive me if I saw “ The way the government announces the lockdown and the rules they put in place made this an obvious decision for many” as an indication that you felt that ACT govt was responsible for their very, questionable (though according to you understandable) reaction. I’d be intrigued as to your justification that the decision by these people to, as the author of the article suggests, put others outside Canberra at risk, is an obvious reaction. To me it seems obvious that a lockdown is about containment – so IMHO, the obvious reaction would be to stay put.

The government must put a timeframe on when the restrictions start because of logistics and to allow people time for organisation.

However, when they did so, the rules created an incentive to leave before 5pm and (seemingly) escape the lockdown. People who own property outside of Canberra naturally would see that incentive and take it.

Whether you or I think it’s a good idea doesn’t really matter, I’m not going to chastise people for not wanting to be locked down again.

Chewy – You know I’m a pretty compliant chappy and always accpet what the government says and generally I try not to be judgmental – though you’ll remind me when I failed 😉 However, on this occasion I am going to admit I’m jumping on to my sanctimonious soapbox and unlike you I am going to chastise these self-centred, inconsiderate ingrates. While the authorities were unable to confirm, at the time of yesterday’s press conference, that patient zero had the Delta variant, I would be surprised if any Canberran did not immediately make that assumption. So, these people, ‘gamed the system’ and took advantage of a delayed start time to the lockdown, to slink off, like rats in the night, to their hobby homes down the coast. Not for one second, did they consider the fact that they might be asymptomatic and infected – as indeed any of us who have actually come into contact with a human being in the ACT since last early Sunday morning. But no, these self-indulgent, entitled a***holes decide their god given right to escape to the coast is far more important than the potential risk to others. Sure it’s highly likely to be a low risk, but these are the type of people who no doubt would have pilloried the ignoramuses from Sydney who, through their thoughtlessness, have put so many country locations under the pump. So Chewy, congratulations on your understanding and restraint, I cannot be so charitable.

It should also be placed on the governments to put up a temporary hard border at state, territory, LGA or state suburb level during lockdown if it is necessary and for supermarkets to allow a limited number of people at a time in the store or shopping centre to discourage panic buying.

steve20 – wouldn’t it be good if we didn’t need to discourage panic buying? Being retired, my wife and I have the luxury of being able to shop at leisure, so we tend to buy as needed rather than the dreaded ‘large weekly shop’. So, yesterday around 2:30pm we went to our local IGA to get a few supplies (I’d love to name them as they are brilliant, but they still have a plentiful supply of toilet paper, so I won’t). Anyway, we expected it to be crowded, which it was, but when we joined the rather long queue, I noticed those in front of me were all holding their purchases in their hands or the small wite baskets – and not a pack of toilet paper amongst them. As to the staff – in they always do, they served the customers in their usual efficient and friendly manner and the queue progressed in a timely orderly way. So, I guess there are pockets of sanity around Canberra – at times like this it may be hard to find.

IGA or other minor and independent supermarkets are a good option if possible due to that they are smaller and more local, as well as having slightly higher prices that don’t appeal to the thrifty shoppers which prevents crowding to an extent. But yes it’s quieter and more convenient.

And they open on pubic holidays when the other supermarkets are closed, which is appreciated in the communities.

Finagen_erection7:23 am 13 Aug 21

The intricacies of the human species. Greed and self interest are here to stay. Just like COVID.

Ever consider they don’t actually live in Canberra. Not many reasons to have tourists here.

Quite right, gooterz, there will be some non-Canberrans who will have been here legitimately and needed to return to their home – but you would expect their numbers would have been small and the majority of those crossing the boder are the rats fleeing the ship. I don’t know for a fact that all of the Fed pollies have remained, but I do know, a majority of those who were here for the current sitting period, have. Just getting that in before the usual suspects use this as an opportunity to lambast the Feds.

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