At the time of writing, Australia has only 54 active cases of Covid-19 within her borders. Along with New Zealand and a number of other countries around the globe, the pandemic has suddenly become way less frightening, but how have harsh lockdowns and other measures affected society?
For most of 2020, harsh lockdowns were in place in most Australian states and like most other countries in the world, life seemingly came to a stop. Enduring these measures did however come with clear benefits as the number of Covid cases in the country dropped and seem to be remaining below the 100 level. The effects of the pandemic on different parts of the economy and society are still making themselves clear but it hasn’t stopped the recently virus-free Australians from enjoying the summer and celebrating their freedom (mind you those 54 ozzies can probably spend a few more days inside).
The business starved entertainment industry was finally able to get back to doing what they do best and large festivals popped up across the country including the Piknic Electronic music festival in Melbourne pictured below.
Seeing pictures like these and being told they were taken mere days ago may seem crazy but that’s the reality. But despite the levity shown in the images, the Australian government is still hard at work monitoring the situation with strict rules on entering the country and detailed quarantine arrangements if let through.
With scenes like these gracing people’s screens across the world, it brings back into people’s minds the debate about the efficacy of lockdown and whether it really pays off to essentially have to shut down most of the country for a few months for these results. Economies worldwide took a huge hit in 2020, Australia notwithstanding despite recent progress. Last year, for the first time in almost three decades, Australia fell into a recession although you could really replace Australia with a long list of country’s names. In spite of this however, in the September quarter of 2020 the Australian economy grew by 3.3 percent and the GDP by 2.6 percent. The restrictions being loosened towards the end of the year caused a 7.9 percent jump in spending, all of these figures and more being attributed to the efficient and strict handling of the pandemic by the Australian government.
The Victoria government (the Australian state in which Melbourne is located) has remarked that the restrictions are slowly loosening and that the state is gradually heading towards a situation that has been penned as ‘Covid normal’. Covid normal. Sounds strange right? Though strange is essentially the new normal now. It’s natural to wonder if there will ever be a return to the general aloofness of early 2020 or late 2019. It’s interesting to look back into the past at how large events have affected our society. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the events following it caused a massive increase in airport and transport security worldwide that still exists today, perhaps the pandemic will make masks a mandatory part of travel in the future, at least in the West. As we take further steps into 2021 stay mindful and optimistic about the global situation, after all we now have the weapons to fight Mr. 19.
Album suggestion: ‘Anything In Return’ – Toro y Moi