How is the situation in your city/ country? Is there a 2nd wave yet?
Australia managed to squash the first wave but Melbourne has seen a spike in cases lately so the government decided to put us in stage 4 lockdown, meaning, we can only leave the house once a day for one hour, there is a curfew and we can only roam within a radius of 5 km within our home. Schools are closed of course, so we are back to remote learning.
How did the atmosphere in your country change within the last months?
In general, people abide by the regulations with the odd one believing their individuall freedom is more important than enduring the inconvenience of wearing a mask. Fines for restriction breaches are very high with over 1600 USD, which probably helps. I have hardly seen any conspiracy theorists receiving a big audience. People are disappointed with the second lockdown but the frustration is more directed towards the government who really messed up the handling of quaranting people entering the country.
How are you and your family?
We are actually doing really good, much better this time around as we now know how it works. Remote learning is going well this time which was a really big challenge during the first lockdown. Just before the 2nd lockdown we got some pets who make a huge difference as they offer a happy distraction and give the girls big responsibilities. What is really worrying is the travel ban because it will make it nearly impossible for us to travel in case our families overseas need us.
What was the biggest challenge for you within the last months?
The mental wellbeing of our daughters, especially our 13 year old was a big concern as she started becoming seriously depressed. Luckily, we could fall back on a support system from Germany which saved her …. and us.
When did you realize how serious the situation is?
Right from the beginning, when I read the news out of Wuhan I started being really worried and my anger at the Australian government, who was very slow to respond, was building up. I think it was at the beginning of March when we decided to keep our girls home from school because the government insisted on keeping them open despite the number of cases rising. It was about two weeks later that the first lockdown and the closure of schools was announced.
How did your government react to the crisis? Which measures/restrictions were taken first?
Initially, the federal government was not taking any measures even denying that the virus would be as bad as it turned out to be. They were basically copying whatever the British were doing. They denied the effectiveness of masks, kept schools and borders open and made some huge mistakes with letting returning travellers roam about without testing or quarantining them. In general, tests were only available for people entering Australia from China. Only when things got really worse overseas and here, they decided on a lockdown.
Are you satisfied with the measures of your government? What was good/bad?
I think they were too slow and very bad at communicating. One thoughtless remark sparked panic buys which they were unable to stop. The federal government and the Victorian government (Melbourne is in the State of Victoria) were fighting about school closures. They are still fighting, denying and mud throwing right now during an investigation about the cause of the second wave in Melbourne. I absolutely agree with the strict 2nd lockdown but I have not a lot of faith in this goverment to handle this responsibly in the long run.
What would you like to say to your government?
Grow up, stop your partisan mud throwing and behave like responsible leaders. Work together on this, follow the science and most of all, work out a sustainable recovery plan rather than putting gas and coal lobbyists in charge. This is not only wrong on every level. It is also really highly irresponsible.
Which sentence of a virologist/politician did you memorize the most?
Isn’t it telling that I cannot produce a quote by a scientist from the top of my head but that I can remember Trump saying that COVID19 will just go away?
Do you know anybody who was infected with COVID-19 or even died?
The nephew of a close friend of mine fell ill with it three weeks ago. He is slowly getting better….
Have you already done a Coronavirus test or have you been in quarantine?
I have had two tests taken, both came out negative.
Are you afraid of getting infected with the Coronavirus?
Yes! I certainly do not want to catch it.
How long is/was your lockdown and what was allowed/what wasn´t?
The first lockdown lasted for 6 weeks. We could still drive to the beach (10 min. by car) and take a walk. No masks were required. The 2nd lockdown confines us to a radius of 5 km, we can only go outside to exersice once a day for one hour and no more than two people together ot matter how big your family is. Masks are required as soon as you leave the house, schools are closed and there is a curfew as of 8pm every evening. Fines are hefty.
Did you spend the lockdown time with somebody and what did you do during this time?
I spent/spend it with my family. We cooked, played board games, extend most activities into our garden, watch movies, go for walks, video call friends and family.
What did you miss the most during the lockdown? What helped you?
I miss going to the beach and having friends over. I miss being able to network professionally and bonding with parents from school. The girls miss their after school acitivities and hanging out with friends. And I miss being able to plan a trip home to Germany in the near or even far future.
How did your work situation change within the last months (shorter hours, working from home, etc.)
Moving to Australia I had to close my business which was going very well. I did an online study course during the first months of 2020 and was hoping to give my career a new boost with it. Thanks to COVID I have been unable to network and start anything new.
How did your social life (relationship/friendships/dating) change due to the Corona crisis?
We like to have people over and have a diverse and big circle of friends which we established when we lived in Melbourne before. Thanks to social media, I still communicate with them regularly, also with friends and family in Germany. Now, we are limited to social contacts across the fence with our neighbors, which is fine as it eases the feeling of isolation. We are lucky to be surrounded by some very fine people.
What impact has the Corona crisis on your financial situation?
My husband luckily has a secure job so that this is not a worry for us.
Social distancing: How does your daily life look like at the moment?
It is structured by the girls’ school time which has moved online. I assist our 7-year old and check on our 13-year old with the occasional butt kicking. Making lunch, making sure everyone gets their daily dose of fresh air, do research professionally, take care of my vegetable garden, chase after our bunnies, and that’s it basically.
Who are to your opinion the heroes of this crisis?
The scientists who help make the right decisions, all the essential workers including the heroes who clean infected office buildings, state leaders who make the right decisions no matter how unpopular they might be, all the unknown volunteers who support people in need and parents who work hard every day to keep their families happy and sane.
What did the crisis show you?
It showed me even more that we can be happy without consumer frenzies, that no state is isolated in this world and that every single one of us has to take responsibility for this planet and its inhabitants. It laid bare how big an issue inequality is in every society. With the climate crisis in mind, it showed me that not even in an emergency, some people understand what impact their individual actions can have on all of society. And I learned how dysfunctional the Australian government can be.
What will you appreciate more after the crisis?
Freedom to travel, hanging out with friends, health, a government that takes sustainable decisions rather than ones that will get them re-elected.
Which images will you never forget?
News photos with people in full protection gear, because they have become a normalcy.
Which stories/incidents/experiences touched/shattered you the most?
The denial of some politicians that this is big. It shattered my hope that politicians at some point will understand that the climate crisis is real and that measures need to be taken NOW.
What are you afraid of right now?
That this will not go away for a long time and that the economy will suffer even more and long-term. We will not be able to keep having lockdowns without it taking a huge toll on the economy, society and mental health.
What gives you hope?
That scientists are working hard to find a vaccine and/or a cure.
Are you planning to travel within the next months?
If they find a vaccine, would you take it?
What can we all learn from this crisis?
That we are all in this together and that we can only make change if we acknowledge this.
If you could give 2020 a headline, what would it be?
Wake-up call for all of us.