The good people of my hometown, Adelaide, are in the tightest lockdown Australia has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us earlier this year.
This is what they’re facing: everything except for food stores are closed – and then, only one person from a household can attend once a day. Schools are closed. There’s no leaving the house for exercise. Only essential workers can go to work.
This quarantine is meant to last until November 25, and today is day 1. They’re calling it a ‘circuit breaker lockdown’, designed specifically to stop the spread of the virus in its tracks, after a significant cluster was found.
The decision was made to take no chances. As Premier Steven Marshall explained, “There is no second chance to stop a second wave”.
But the main aim of this quarantine is not only saving lives but also saving Christmas. I know that sounds like a holiday movie with Tim Allen in it, but it’s also true. Adelaidians are saving Christmas for the whole goddamn country.
We all know what happens if the virus spreads: borders will close or remain closed, and we will have another Melbourne on our hands. After a dreadful year for most people, the idea of not seeing family for the holidays is heartbreaking.
Yes, I’m one of them. My nephews are having their first Christmas without their mum, and I simply can’t not be there.
But, I’m not worried. I have the utmost confidence Adelaidians will smash this.
They know their responsibility – they’ve turned out in the thousands to get tested, ever since the northern suburbs cluster was identified at the end of last week. They’re grabbing all the groceries they need so they can complete quarantine without leaving the house again.
And now, they will stay at home. Without complaint.
In fact, the only ‘complaints’ I’ve heard so far are from two friends:
- “Just one day later, and my cleaner could have come. Now I have to clean the house myself.” (It is a very large house, so I figure she only has herself to blame.)
- “I just need to go out so my dog can do its business.” (There was some confusion about dog walking, but SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has this morning confirmed it could be okay if you exercise common sense.)
I know from personal experience that quarantine is not easy. I recently spent three weeks in Adelaide for a family death, two of which were in quarantine and we could only see my bereaved mother. It’s a very strange sensation knowing you can’t pop to the shops, go for a walk around the block or grab a quick take away coffee from a café.
After a few days, you begin to realise that losing your freedom for days or weeks at a time is a lot harder than it seems on snippets on the news.
For each person in Adelaide, this deprivation of liberty for six days is a big deal. For some, there will be mental health consequences.
Nevertheless, the quarantine will be done, and mostly stoically because Adelaidians know the country is relying on them. And thinking of them, too.
Well, most of us.
There are lots of jokes circulating on the interwebs about how the streets of Adelaide don’t look much different now – relying on the old trope that Adelaide, as a city, is boring. The implication being that Adelaidians aren’t missing much during their quarantine.
I think that’s a pretty rude way of treating the very people whose isolation obedience can make or break the upcoming holidays. Considering what’s at stake, perhaps unbridled support would be more appropriate.
Anyway, my beloved Adelaide definitely has mine.
Thanks, Adelaidians, for doing your best to save Christmas from the COVID-19 Grinch. I can’t wait to feel your 40 degrees’ sun on my face very soon.