Life In Lockdown: An Interview


The Dundalk Leader recently reached out to gain an insight into what life is like living in the world’s longest and strictest lockdown during the COVID Pandemic in Melbourne.

As Ireland prepares for a potential second wave, I wanted to share the full interview for those who are not native to my hometown of Dundalk and to give you a glimpse into what life has really been like over the past 6 months.

 

1/ How strict are the measures over there and in general, are people taking them seriously?

We are currently still in Stage 4 lockdown since August 4th. What Stage 4 means is 8pm – 5am curfew is in place, only one person can leave to get groceries, all business closed except for essential services, some restaurants operating under takeaway only. 5km travel limit work permits needed for travel, you can only leave for exercise one hour a day. No visitors however spousal visits are allowed with the correct permits needed. Masks have been mandatory once you leave the house since July.

Some restrictions eased from September 14th which was our original freedom date. Curfew extended to 9pm, you can meet one other person from another household outside, picnics are allowed for households, you can go outdoors for 2 hours now and it does not have to be for exercise.

 
People are taking them seriously, we had 700 cases a day for a time in July/August and at the time of writing, we had 21 cases overnight. There is also a large police presence to ensure people are adhering to curfew.
Update: We are now moving into more easing of restrictions as our 14-day rolling average drops to 20 which has resulted in restrictions beginning to ease. The curfew has been lifted, we can now meet between two households, up to 5 people in public, and have PT sessions of two people outside. Our original date of October 26th for many retail stores has been moved to October 19th which is exciting. 

2/ How are you and your boyfriend coping? It must be so tough seeing restrictions extended time and time again.

To be completely honest it has been extremely hard. We have been in lockdown since March with a couple weeks where Melbourne attempted to open back up before the inevitable second wave forced us to go straight back to stage 3 then to stage 4.

 
When you constantly have timeframes laid out where you expect to gain a bit more ‘normality’ and that date is repeatedly moved then met with further restrictions it zaps all hope that there is an end in sight. In the beginning, we were really all in this together but now Melbourne is the longest and strictest lockdown in the world which makes isolation even more isolating.

We purchased our second-year visa whilst in lockdown part 1 in April with the hopes we would be able to get back to exploring Australia in a couple of months, we never could have expected that borders would be closed essentially trapping us and we would have to wait until November before we can even go out for a meal. It can get frustrating!

We have each other and constantly talk about how we are feeling. We make a point of discussing our mental health because that has understandably and expectedly taken a hit, I already suffer from anxiety, so we do little things to make sure we look after ourselves and one another. A lot of Self Care! We are grateful to have one another to go through this unique experience with.

We are big Film fans so we enjoy watching and re-watching films/tv shows, although we are starting to run out at this stage!
 
We both love cooking and have been using some meal delivery services, such as Hello Fresh, Marley Spoon, and Dinnerly, so we can constantly try new recipes. I generally share our cooking evenings on my Instagram stories @aweirdheff.  We also have some cocktail evenings to create the feeling of being out for a date, when I say we Kevin is the mixologist I am the taste tester.
 

I’ve become oddly obsessed with Suduko, it’s my go-to in the evening with a cuppa after work. We have a 500 piece puzzle we purchased in lockdown 1 in April that we are very slowly completing. I also bought the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K at the beginning of Stage 4 so I am reading it to help get me through (lol)
 
In lockdown pt 1 Kevin decided he wanted to play the Ukulele so I surprised him with one when we went back into Stage 3, although he could practice more! Podcasts have also been a saving grace, Fake Doctors Real Friends, Armchair Expert, and the Rewatchables are our current favorites.
 

The weather is starting to pick up which means Sunday Brunch on the balcony. With picnics back allowed, we expect to have many picnics in the park and BBQs along the beach in the coming weeks.

4/ Are you both working or are most workplaces closed at the moment?

We are both very lucky to be working, that is the main reason we have been able to stay in Melbourne and not be part of the two mass exoduses of Irish working holidaymakers who were struck by the pandemic and mass unemployment.

I am the Social Lead for Accent Group who run 15 footwear brands across Australia and New Zealand including Vans, Dr. Martens, Skechers, and Timberland. I have been working from home for the past six months apart from one month where I was back in the office to help in training new team members. We have a very supportive team environment with weekly department-themed zoom calls where we can all catch up and check-in with each other.

 
Kevin is in construction, which has seen further limitations due to lockdown however aside from a couple of weeks where work was scarce he has largely remained in employment. He does need to have a work permit on him at all times and wears a mask from he leaves the house, during work, and until he returns back home. Other than essential services, doctors and supermarkets etc every other business are closed or working from home. However, restaurants and some pubs are operating as take away only.

5/ Has there been any positives to your enforced lockdown?

Oh, it would be very easy to be miserable and say NO as lockdown continues and seems never-ending, but that wouldn’t be right to say either.

We have the beach and botanical gardens nearby. Albert Park where the Australian Grand Prix is held as our local park. There is so much beauty around us and Melbourne sunsets are simply breathtaking.

I got a promotion in work to Social Lead whilst in lockdown and have started contributing as a writer for The Athlete’s Foot and Platypus Shoes blogs which is exciting.

 
I’ve oddly made more friends and built stronger bonds with older ones throughout this experience. It’s been really incredible to create these connections with new and old friends without being able to see them or even being 100’s of miles apart. That has been a really nice part of lockdown for both myself and Kevin and we appreciate anyone who has ever reached out to us, especially while Ireland began to move from lockdown and adapt to the new normal.
 
The key positive that has come out of lockdown, myself and Kevin have not murdered each other! A pandemic and the most extreme lockdown on the other side of the world with just the two of you can test and strain a relationship, but it has really made us stronger and appreciate our bond. That is not to say there haven’t been some testy days, but they can be counted on one hand.
 

 

I’ve been very open on my Instagram about how Lockdown has impacted my mental health and want to just remind everyone to check in on each other. Here are some Irish resources that can help if you are struggling throughout the ongoing changes this Pandemic has brought.

  • Pieta House who are available 24hrs a day on 1800 247 237 or Text HELP to 51444

  • SPUNOUT.ie aimed at helping 10-25year olds, they are available Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

  • AWARE provides support for anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or Bipolar Disorder – Freephone 1800 80 48 48 10am-10pm

**Update to some discrepancies in the interview image, we moved to Melbourne in April, conducting our farmwork in the Berrima NSW from September to December. While we did experience the smog and worked to protect the farm as the bush fires started, we moved back to Melbourne in December as our farm work ended and we wanted to spend Christmas with friends 

AJ xx

Twitter: Aweirdheff
Instagram: Aweirdheff
Facebook: AoifeJane 

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