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.
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.
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.
3/ What has helped you get through the boredom of being stuck indoors. Books, zoom calls back home? TV?
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.
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 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.