Is our community starting to crack in COVID-land?

Zoya Patel 23 September 2021 108
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As weeks turn into months, many of us are struggling to maintain the lockdown behaviour we were diligent about 40 days ago. Photo: Region Media.

Forty days in, and lockdown land is starting to feel somewhat surreal.

As a community that was largely sheltered from the full lockdown experience until now, Canberrans are finally beginning to relate to what our Victorian and NSW counterparts told us was going to be a strange and stressful time.

I won’t lie: when lockdown was first announced, I wasn’t too worried.

Naively, and from a position of immense privilege, I assumed I would weather the expected (at that time) short period in hibernation well. Think of how much writing I’d get done! I have a novel coming out I could be editing! I still have my full-time work to occupy my time, and the comfort and security of my home, relationship and health to hold on to.

Being fully vaccinated, I felt cushioned from the threat of COVID, and my only concern was contracting and spreading the virus to others.

Ah, to go back to that more innocent version of myself.


READ ALSO: Teen allegedly breached COVID laws during 3:30 am cigarette run


Now, my outlook is quite different – the cracks are starting to appear, and I’m noticing them in others too.

Every day is a sepia-toned repeat of the one before. Despite being ordinarily blessed with robust mental health, I find myself feeling anxious for no reason, leaning heavily on sugar and carbs to get me through each day, and starting to lose my patience with the people I’m connected to (albeit via a screen).

And from what I’ve witnessed around me, the cracks are widening in the community at large too. One pressure point is the responsibility we feel to enforce COVID-safe behaviour in others, especially as the lockdown drags on.

It’s understandable that as weeks turn into months, many of us are struggling to maintain the lockdown behaviour we were diligent about 40 days ago. I find myself itching to take my mask off while walking the dog, especially as the weather gets warmer. Even though they’re nowhere near my local area, the impulse to see friends is strong. The desire to visit my parents, especially when I know they’re struggling with being so isolated from their family networks, is overwhelming. If I’m feeling it, I have no doubt others are feeling it too.

Inevitably, some of us will slip into past behaviours, and others are forced to call it out and gently point out the rules that are being broken. This feels incredibly awkward and can lead to defensive and combative reactions. It makes the offender feel embarrassed, stressed, maybe angry – and the other person feels like a fun-policing dibby-dobber.

To be frank, our many cultural norms around being a good sport, not ‘telling on’ people, and generally being relaxed and chilled out make it challenging to hold people accountable to lockdown laws.


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I’ve witnessed a few of these scenarios over the past few days (and by ‘witnessed’, I do mean via Facebook messenger chats relaying info, while I languish in my home). In one instance, a friend wanted a small picnic to celebrate a milestone. Another friend had to point out that it strictly wasn’t within lockdown rules. What ensued was a snippy debate about who was right or wrong, and a pervasive sense of hurt and confusion between both parties, who ultimately were coming from positive places albeit cross purposes.

Similarly, I’ve heard from other friends about their frustration at being called out on social media for going to pick up items they purchased on Facebook marketplace during lockdown, which couldn’t really be considered ‘essential’ (the decision to post it on social media also says something about how mundane our days are, that this was a source of excitement). And another friend has been called out for attempting to meet someone from Tinder during lockdown.

It’s immensely difficult to adjust to such a significant change in our daily freedoms over such a short period of time. It’s even more complicated when we have to, by and large, enforce the rules ourselves, because so much COVID-safe behaviour is reliant on people’s honesty and compliance.

The concept of ‘community’ is so closely linked to physical proximity and the organic interactions we can have with each other, and in the absence of these factors, we’re left with the tedious parts of common society with none of the benefits.

Let’s exercise kindness and compassion, even as we commit to accountability and a collective effort to get out of this thing. The Canberra we have post-COVID may look somewhat different to what it did beforehand, but we still have a community worth fighting to keep safe.


What's Your Opinion?


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108 Responses to Is our community starting to crack in COVID-land?
Futureproof Futureproof 4:09 pm 25 Sep 21

One thing that these lockdowns have taught me – if you were ever going to start a business, make sure you can sell all your products online

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 5:41 am 24 Sep 21

No, we aren't becoming more complacent, we are becoming more like the rest of the world..... Covid bearing.

John Currie John Currie 12:51 am 24 Sep 21

Wow. The only thing I notice about lockdown is I can’t get a haircut. Otherwise there are no more or less signs of life than usual. No one is in the office, but with flexible work arrangements that is normal in Canberra. I’m from Melbourne and I know first hand the damage extended lockdowns inflict on people. The thing with Canberra is that people here can’t comprehend that the only place in the world that is like Canberra is Canberra. Love it or hate it or something in between….but stop complaining about being ‘locked down’ in Canberra, with no comprehension of what the rest of the world has been going through for 20 months. Please. Show some maturity. Toughen up. Grow up. Understand it’s not all about Canberra and Canberrans. Wear a black turtleneck and ride your bike to the Carillon. That’s as exciting as it gets here, we can still do it, what is the problem?

gositsa gositsa 7:57 pm 23 Sep 21

Unbelievable. First world problems & whingers. How about living through one of the Ethiopian famines, the second world war or more recently Syrian war etc. Get a grip.

    whatwik whatwik 9:13 pm 23 Sep 21

    Yes – just how difficult is it to wear a mask, keep your distance, and QR on a full stomach and without having to dodge bombs and bullets. Imagine if we had to have blackout curtains – the place’d be lit up like Luna Park.

Josette Noble Josette Noble 6:19 pm 23 Sep 21

What do you expect we are sick of the this now it’s not getting us anywhere let us out

Jody Maree Harrison Jody Maree Harrison 5:07 pm 23 Sep 21

Lock downs are the best . I do feel sorry for business owners tho . The more we complain about being locked down the longer it should go on

Acton Acton 2:38 pm 23 Sep 21

I am not going to wear a mask while walking my dog along a bush or forest track. If I see you and say hello, please smile and say hello back. We are all becoming anti-social and paranoid. Stuff the Chief Nanny.

MERC600 MERC600 2:03 pm 23 Sep 21

“”Is our community starting to crack in COVID-land?””

Well I don’t know. Is port with your rice bubbles a sort of a crack.
Am not doing that yet, but mightn’t be long before I shortly start googling for different breakfast cereal combinations .

Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 1:53 pm 23 Sep 21

We are tracking well for 90% vaccinated here. In the meantime children are to be seen everywhere enjoying our parks. Family picnics everywhere. We will soon be out of lockdown.

Kate King Kate King 12:35 pm 23 Sep 21

You should be able to check out of places as you can on the nsw equivalent so you dont get false news of being a close contact where you were there hours before or after

Gillian Southwell Gillian Southwell 12:09 pm 23 Sep 21

Its not hard to QR into places or wear a mask, people are just lazy. Should be grateful we haven't put up with all this as long as Melbourne

    Jay Annabel Jay Annabel 1:52 pm 23 Sep 21

    Gillian Southwell grateful, for being locked up? what an odd contribution.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 2:22 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jay Annabel grateful that our numbers are holding and no precious Canberran has died this wave. I thank all wonderful people in ICU. Do what is asked of you for their sake!!!!

    Gillian Southwell Gillian Southwell 4:36 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jay Annabel did i actually say that though

whatwik whatwik 11:06 am 23 Sep 21

“The majority of Canberrans either have moved from interstate or have links such as family in other states.”

Exactly, and why in contrast to the ‘Canberra Bubble’ proponents with their self serving ideological motivations there is a strong case that Canberra residents are in fact more in touch with their fellow Australians than those living anywhere else in the country!

Teddy Nicholas Teddy Nicholas 10:41 am 23 Sep 21

The government's in this country are to blame. Their actions were late and now are starting to divide our society. Most people are doing what they like. They are sick of it. Reopen everything . Make masks mandatory inside and out (vaxxed or not). Let's get in with our lives. The virus isn't going anywhere

    Peter Curtis Peter Curtis 6:38 pm 23 Sep 21

    The federal/NSW government is incompetent. Blame lies elsewhere - your opinion is deliberate self-deception. Have you noticed the absence of people in the street and cars on the road?

    Peter Curtis Peter Curtis 7:01 pm 23 Sep 21

    Teddy Nicholas no ? What planet are you on?

Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 10:07 am 23 Sep 21

agreed. 40 days on and our cases arent going down. We have NO roadmap out and an extended lockdown

    Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 6:46 pm 23 Sep 21

    Stas Idowu Yes, exactly why the cases are not going down . More worrying though is the constant high number of people out and about in their infectious period

Jon Billows Jon Billows 10:06 am 23 Sep 21

Ducked out to the supermarket this morning for some essentials, 4 of the first 5 people weren't wearing masks. 2 using their morning coffee as a convenient alibi.

    Nat Teh Nat Teh 10:13 am 23 Sep 21

    Jon people have exemptions, masks won't save you. 🙄 do you.

    Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 12:44 pm 23 Sep 21

    Nat Teh might save someone else, though ☺️

    Jon Billows Jon Billows 12:50 pm 23 Sep 21

    Nat Teh i don't think 80% of people have exemptions...

    Nat Teh Nat Teh 12:50 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jon maybe not but that's not your business.

    Jon Billows Jon Billows 1:00 pm 23 Sep 21

    Nat Teh it is as someone not wearing a mask because they are too lazy puts myself and many others at risk. If anyone walks into a venue and sees 4/5 people not wearing a mask, that's a massive red flag.

    Nat Teh Nat Teh 1:05 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jon did you walk out or continue on.

    Peter Curtis Peter Curtis 6:39 pm 23 Sep 21

    I have yet to see someone NOT wearing a mask.

Kylie Bonfili Kylie Bonfili 9:37 am 23 Sep 21

Wtf do you expect?

You can only push people so far. Everyone just thinks it's so simple, to just do as we are told. It's ruining people's live. But yet people expect others to keep complying with things that are contributing to their lives being f***ed. Everyone has had enough of covid and the BS. No clear and decise indication of when itll end nor the lockdown.

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 9:48 am 23 Sep 21

    Kylie Bonfili it is simple. Get vaccinated.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:51 am 23 Sep 21

    there is not an exact date, but there is an indication we will ease restrictions every 2 weeks with the goal of being 90% vaccinated, when the country gets to 80% vaccinated and then lockdown will end, but with plenty of restrictions in place. Thankfully we are already over 80% first dose, so we'll hit 90% soon and just then need all the second doses. Nation is at 73.5% first dose. End of October we are likely to have significant easing of restrictions.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 9:59 am 23 Sep 21

    Kylie Bonfili and when we open up with escalating cases and hospitalisation they’ll still blame in on the unwashed

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 10:03 am 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice because we’re waiting for everyone else to get the chance to get their jab 🙃

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 10:05 am 23 Sep 21

    Also dramatic much? You can meet up with friends at a park, have a picnic. I think some Canberrans are starting to become a pack of whiners without thinking about what Melbourne has experienced. It’s been 5 weeks. Ease up on the drama.

    Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 10:08 am 23 Sep 21

    Shalini Nestor even those that are vaccinated are not free? People are fed up

    Shalini Nestor Shalini Nestor 10:09 am 23 Sep 21

    Stas Idowu for goodness sake; the strength of vaccination is in the high % numbers what don’t you get about that? Yes it’s challenging at the moment but the best we can do is to encourage our friends and neighbours to book in for their vax.

    Nat Teh Nat Teh 10:15 am 23 Sep 21

    Derp, get vaccinated 🤪

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 10:21 am 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice I’m sure the inmates would be jumping to swap places if you want to give it a go. Such childish melodrama over a few simple rules.

    Teddy Nicholas Teddy Nicholas 10:44 am 23 Sep 21

    Justin Watson you'll never get 90% . Dream on

    Jess Lucia Jess Lucia 12:30 pm 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice there are inmates at AMC who do prepare their own meals and do the washing up. They’ve also been on lockdown and had no visitors for months. Soooo prison conditions aren’t as great as you claim.

    Renea Hazel Renea Hazel 1:51 pm 23 Sep 21

    Kylie Bonfili to the contrary, there s a very concrete timeframe for the ending of the lockdown, it is tied to the vaccination rate. No-one is advocating getting to zero cases this time around, all this current lockdown has ever been about is minimising spread pending vaccination. Blame the federal government for the pathetic 'it's not a race' roll-out.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 2:18 pm 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice I don't think you fully get that it is a Pandemic! Andrew Barr didn't create it. Covid is a hideous, serious disease - I have lost a friend age 39 a beautiful person, healthy and kind, when vaccines were not available to her. We can't just pretend life is the way it used to be. we need to toughen up and stay the course. Just get vaccinated, go outside every day and enjoy that we are alive!

    Kylie Bonfili Kylie Bonfili 3:43 pm 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice 🙂yes, it prob seems I don't understand. Not at all. I totally understand why we have to do this. But we are also at the point where we get 80-90% vaccinated Australia wide and then that's it. Time to end pandemic and move on. No more masks, lockdowns, restrictions and border/international closures. People have to expect resistance at this point. I think Australia has done well to not do it sooner and more often.

    We are tough but we also want our freedom back and our choice back. I'm not anti vaxer. I've had my first shot. But non vacinated people shouldn't be treated differently and Def's shouldn't have to choose between their job and vaccine.

    Raving about it all isn't really going to do anything. People just need to voice their opinion.

    I'm stranded and homeless because of border closures. No job. My professional driving lessons put on hold. Can't go see my sick mum because I can't finish off my lessons so I can get my licence. And there's so much more this lockdown and border closures have done to me. Which is why I'm so effin over it. I want to start working on getting my life on track. Going through all that is mentally hard enough so not being able to physically do anything about my life right now is taking its toll on me. Just like it is with many many other people. And we just get sick of hearing the dam Karen's with their its easy it's simple to follow the rules stop being over dramatic blah blah. I'm at breaking point and there's no way to fix it until Australia lets us out basically.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 4:25 pm 23 Sep 21

    Abbie Allardice yes and you need to think about it. Not just a story, a girl with a name. There and two days later, not there. Check out an ICU unit at any of our hospitals and you will understand!

    Josh Ongley Josh Ongley 4:55 pm 23 Sep 21

    Robert Azzopardi I think you mean pure bloods

    Rade Kosa Rade Kosa 6:37 pm 23 Sep 21

    Renea Hazel what do you make of the numbers that the most vaccinated countries in the world I.e Singapore and Israel including others have most significantly increased their COVID cases and deaths? I wouldn’t say that getting vax’d is the panacea.

    Renea Hazel Renea Hazel 6:43 pm 23 Sep 21

    Rade Kosa no it's not but we can't go on in lockdown forever.

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 6:51 pm 23 Sep 21

    Margaret Freemantle sorry to hear this sad loss.

    But may I ask why wasn't the vaccine available to her?

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:10 pm 23 Sep 21

    Nada Krstin she was young Nada, and the vaccine was not available for under 40 year olds a few weeks ago when it happened.

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 11:32 pm 23 Sep 21

    Margaret Freemantle thank you for replying - so awful - again, please accept condolences to you and all her family

Jackie White Jackie White 9:33 am 23 Sep 21

Wow. Really?

How do you think Melbournians feel? Moaning and being non-compliant after this brief a time really sounds pathetic.

    Stuart Roesler Stuart Roesler 12:27 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jackie White agree. Self discipline seems to be lacking.

    Car La Car La 1:22 pm 23 Sep 21

    Jackie White exactly. Been dealing with this for over 1.5 years

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:28 am 23 Sep 21

I had to have a blood test yesterday and because the pathology collection site I usually use had been closed (along with many others) I was directed to another suburb. It was very busy and most people arriving had to mingle with people already waiting on the footpath outside, after registering.

There were no instruction signs or staff to direct people so every second person arriving got confused and walked in without using the QR check-in.

Being one waiting on the footpath after QR registering I tried to remind people to do it but some ignored me, some thanked me for reminding them and others clearly didn’t understand English.

Standing on the footpath I realized that I was the only one not using my mobile device while waiting. I also realized that the QR check-in system is a failure because it is not enforced and so are our current migration values a failure because we are not insisting that our new citizens learn and use English.

Futureproof Futureproof 9:16 am 23 Sep 21

Ditch Facebook and you will be much happier. Facebook is a morale vampire

Sam Oak Sam Oak 9:16 am 23 Sep 21

The majority of Canberrans either have moved from interstate or have links such as family in other states. It already became and us vs them, state vs state affair over the border restrictions and unequal distribution of vaccines. The government is so clueless and weak in the ACT without a clear roadmap out of lockdown that I don’t think there is a strong Canberran identity at all. Each of my neighbours seem to have NSW or Victorian number plates. We are kneecapping our businesses and tradies with these ongoing lockdowns with hardly any support. When faced with life and death choices it’s always a survival of the fittest mentality that wins out.

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