Forget the fact that we can’t drive too far at these days, but Australians seem to be like the kids in the back crying ”are we there yet?”
The nation’s COVID-19 containment measures appear to be working and we are the envy of countries where the death toll is and continues to be appalling.
It’s working so well that commentators, mostly of the economic kind advocating a cruel calculus in which some lives are more valuable than others, are suggesting it’s time to ease off and get the nation back to work, because the cure is worse than the disease.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is talking about exit strategies at the same time as he announces another month of lockdown, and going solo in urging teachers and students to return to their classrooms, because coronavirus is somehow kinder to kids, just when it looked like he’d got this leadership thing.
And you can feel it in the air, that sense of relief and permission the mix of messages is giving us to relax and prepare for life to return to normal.
You walk down the path and groups are gathering and holding their ground as you pass around them. Soon the cafés will be serving more than takeaways.
Those who have lost their jobs are understandably thinking it won’t be long now and they can return to where they left off.
NSW, which was so firm about remote learning that the ACT felt compelled to say it was in lockstep, is now rolling back and talking about schools reopening three weeks into term two. Did Gladys, who all year has stood firm against her federal Liberal colleagues and the Prime Minister, finally succumb to the pressure?
Even Yvette Berry, hardly the most nuanced of politicians, found herself talking about seeing how things go and re-assessing the situation.
But it seems the digitally savvy ACT will stick to a term of remote teaching at least. It won’t be perfect but it will provide valuable experience and data, as well as keeping teachers and students safe.
It is incomprehensible to think that amid all the social distancing measures, we could somehow allow hundreds of children and their teachers to gather together five days a week on the one site and not expect something to go wrong as they go home on public transport to their families.
Certainty and consistency is what we need, not chopping and changing.
They all provide the caveats about reopening the economy – the Singapore sling, where there has been a surge in cases after initial success – the risks of starting of the whole wicked process again, and this time not being able to nip it in the bud so easily, and the fact that if that was the case our sacrifices would have been for nought.
But still the asides continue. Maybe they think they’re offering hope, but really all they do is undermine the whole strategy.
We all want this done and dusted. The economic consequences are immense but we need to listen to the scientific and medical experts who have got us into this potentially winning position, not gun slingers for a certain national newspaper.
We are barely a month into the lockdown and we need to stay the course until the science tells us otherwise, even when, like in the ACT, the number of new cases dries up.
We do not need departures from the central message, such as the Prime Minister doing his own thing despite setting up a National Cabinet to provide unity and focus to what has been needed to be done.
We do not need carrots thrown to the mob, preparing the ground for rolling back the restrictions.
And remember, there are still thousands of Australians still returning to this country from around the world. Winter is coming, and we should still expect the worst and hope for the best.
It is now a slow, frustrating burn, but ease up too soon and we could get well and truly scorched.
The kids in the back need to be given some straight talking and told to pipe down for a while.