The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau.
It’s all so eerily familiar. The gray weather and afternoon sunsets. The anxious wait for the day’s numbers. The obsessive checking of exposure sites. The rumors of restrictions, followed by the reality of lockdown. The kids home from school. Birthday parties canceled, holidays postponed. The dreary, fearful, resigned uncertainty of it all.
Today, Victoria entered its second lockdown since last year, when the state — and Melbourne in particular — spent many months with a variety of harsh restrictions. With 39 active coronavirus cases in the state and hundreds of exposure sites, including sports arenas and crowded bars, we’ve been told we’re in for a seven-day “circuit breaker” lockdown. (In February, a snap lockdown kept us at home for five days around Valentine’s Day.) But we know that if things go the wrong way, we could be in for a longer haul.
Much of the world has experienced some form of lockdown, so much so that the word tends to lose meaning when used outside of a local context. In Victoria, it means we are not allowed to leave our homes except for a few essential reasons. We are not allowed to travel more than five kilometers from our homes. Enforcement last year was strict; there’s no reason to think that this will be any different, although most people are compliant. Folks I know are glad for rules that aim to keep them safe. But that appreciation doesn’t make the lonely claustrophobia of lockdown any easier.
And it’s easy to wonder: Why Melbourne? Other Australian cities have managed
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