Howdy all there. As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve stepped back a little from blogging. I mean, yes posts every day still, but I haven’t done a ‘life update’ style post in quite the while, so I think nowish isn’t a bad time to do one.
Australia is still at least 50% in lockdown, with Melbourne and Sydney being the two biggest cities here being where most of the locked down people. You may expect our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to be in charge of opening up but in Australia almost ALL decisions regarding restrictions and lockdowns are put in the hands of the state Premiers – possibly to prevent Morrison from looking bad when he has to make a tough decision. Okay, that’s the main reason.
Last Sunday, Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria who has been likened to a ‘dictator’ with memes, opposition MPs and plenty of others labelling him ‘Dictator Dan’, announced a ‘roadmap’ to reopening the state. It’s had many screaming ‘toooo slow!’ and the health sector screaming ‘NOOOOO! Too fast!’ So it’s kinda hard to know where it sits but I guess I am not a nurse but I am also so sick of being locked down and only being able to leave my home for essential shopping and work. But hey, I still have work.
What are the proposals and where does Victoria sit with cases right now? Well, to answer the second part first we are getting around 500 – 600 cases daily at the moment. New South Wales’ cases are tapering off and have slipped under 1000 a day this week for the first time in over a month – although they crept back up over 1000 after just one day. Ours still seem to be rising and are predicted to peak in late October at 2900 a day. Which seems hard to believe as we are still under harsher lockdown restrictions than NSW have ever been in. But it seems compliance is seriously lacking now after being through so much lockdown over the last 18 months. And now it’s spreading fast through kids.
They predict we will hit 70% fully vaccinated (over 16s) on around 26th of October and we will see easing then and then 80% around 5th of November, although earlier targets have been missed – tomorrow we were due to hit 80% first dose but we’re not going to quite make that (Victoria) so it’s possibly going to take a little longer to get to these other targets.
From a personal standpoint, I haven’t been able to get out and shoot anything for YouTube in three months. It is really lucky that I shot so far in advance, but by the time November arrives I will have used up all the new stuff I shot – I have some older stuff from Thailand and Myanmar coming up in October though which will help me through a bit.
As for international travel, at this point it looks like the federal government is holding fast with their pledge to reopen the borders when we hit 80% fully vaccinated. In fact, the plan is apparently from state to state and so when New South Wales hits 80% fully vaccinated (over 16s) they are potentially going to open up to international through Sydney Airport – they are at 85% first dose at the moment and are the leading state (although the Australian Capital Territory – Canberra – very small are also at around the same mark). Of course, they won’t have international flights the day they hit their mark, they will need to prepare.
And that has been a bit of an issue already – will we be ready for international travel and people actually coming to Australia to visit, to study and the like again? The last time I wrote about all these sort of ponderings and international travel to and from Australia, it looked like we would reopen with incoming travellers needing to quarantine in hotels and paid for by the incomer. I suggested that this seemed like a requirement sure to dissuade all but the most determined traveller.
But it looks like that will not be the case. If you are fully vaccinated. I would say the only non-vaccinated travellers that will come to Australia will be returning Australians, maybe some students I don’t know but not many are likely to be put into hotel quarantine come the end of the year. And the reason for that is there is a plan now for home quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers. Right now there are trials of how this would work in New South Wales and South Australia. And the good news with these trials is this – the plan is that fully vaccinated travellers/arrivals will only need to quarantine for a week. Which to me seems like a far more doable time scale. It would still mean that for a foreign holiday you need to allow an extra week, but for some this will be of little worry – many have made a transition to work from home. I can’t do it, but if I was going far away, I would want 3 – 4 days minimum before returning to work anyway to get over the jetlag. So it’s not much more than that.
If you’re a visitor for Australia, well if you only have two weeks off you’re not going to want to spend half of it in quarantine. So Australia will be for the traveller who wants to spend a bit of time here. I personally would be worried about disruptions due to Covid. There are commitments from state governments that lockdowns will only be a last resort if the health system gets overwhelmed with cases. New South Wales certainly seem to be very committed to opening and staying open, and even here in Victoria the premier has said things to that effect. Western Australian and Queensland though seem less keen, they have had very little over the duration, and are keen to keep it that way I guess. As a result, they have the poorest vaccine uptakes – less urgency I guess when you don’t have Covid in your state, plus the Federal Government has prioritise vaccines to the areas where there are lots of cases – IE principally New South Wales, to a lesser extent, Victoria.
The ironic thing about opening up is that international travel may be possible for those from half of Australia before domestic interstate travel is – to Western Australia and Queensland at least. We know that thousands of Australians are stranded overseas wanting to come home – although not so many lately, I think many have given up, because well, Australia is literally 9 months behind the rest of the world in dealing with Covid in general. It’s only in the last few months that there has been a sense of urgency and an actual desire to return to normal. But the crazy thing here is – stranded Victorians in New South Wales can’t return home, or if they can it’s via air and they have to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. And the same goes for those wanting to return to say Queensland from Victoria or New South Wales, and Western Australia – you can’t even do it at all. Covid has turned Australia into basically 8 separate countries, formally states and territories.
Worldwide corona virus cases over the last month are trending down. The planet seems to be on the downward curve of the third wave. Will new variants produce a fourth wave? This is the question we all hold our breath to find the answer. And one thing the forecasts of doom at reopening in Australia are not suggesting is that after the increase in cases, there should, in theory, be a natural reduction in cases because these things come in waves and the waves go up and the waves go down.
I hope for a reopened country by the end of the year. The events of the last two years and the way Australia and its states have handled and responded to them, despite the plans of hope, leave me apprehensive and nervous to see what happens over the next six to twelve months, because the key milestones of vaccination are not that far away. For me it’s wait and see, hope for the best but mentally prepare for the worst. I really hope that there is a lot more certainty in both Australia and the world 12 months for now.
Thanks for reading today. Take care – May the Journey Never End!