Everyday life is changing rapidly in Sydney. Things that would seem reasonable just days ago, as innocuous as visiting a family member or sitting on a park bench and reading a book, could now mean a huge fine, or worse.
While rules about what we can and cannot do are tightening, we’ve been hearing from people who are having trouble expressing the seriousness of the situation to loved ones, from the backpacker who just cannot resist a secret party to your nanna who insists on seeing the grandkids.
We’ve pulled together some facts to help you get your head around our strange new world - and some things to gently tell your friends and loved ones who might not be 100 per cent on board that iso-train. Life in isolation, or iso-life, as it is becoming known, can be frustrating. But it's necessary, and it’s not all bad.
It is possible to contain this pandemic - but only if we all work together. A study from the University of Sydney found that we will be able to control the spread of the virus within four months if at least 80 per cent of the population properly practices physical distancing. If 90 per cent of people comply, it can be controlled in three months. However if 70 per cent or fewer people follow social distancing precautions, the spread cannot be controlled.
But physical isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Now is the time to remind your nearest and dearest that we are all in this together. Teach your nanna how to use Zoom, get proactive on social media and don’t be shy about telling your friends to stay home and wash their hands. Organise web hangouts with your mates, or watch a show together from your own homes.
If we view ourselves as besieged victims who need to go into hiding, then we will cultivate fear and hoarding. If we view ourselves as a community working hard to protect the most vulnerable among us, then we will cultivate courage and helping. Mindset matters.— Len Niehoff (@LenNiehoff) March 13, 2020
You could be fined $11,000 for breaking physical distancing rules or even go to jail. Anyone found to be breaking the two-person gathering rule or otherwise leaving their home without a ‘reasonable’ purpose could be issued an on-the-spot fine. There are only 16 very specific reasons you are allowed to leave your home. Jail sentences of up to six months could also apply for breaking physical distancing rules. A Sydney man has been arrested and faces up to a year in jail after repeatedly breaking self-isolation orders after returning from overseas.
While popping out to your favourite restaurant or having a lazy rendezvous to the beach or a museum is currently off the cards, there are ways to make the most of it. Sydney’s hospitality businesses are adapting to the pandemic and offering takeaway options. There are plenty of other things going online; you can also find some escapism by exploring the Biennale of Sydney digitally or taking a virtual craft lesson.
THINGS U CAN STILL DO WHILE SOCIALLY DISTANCING:— 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐍𝐎𝐑 (@dougiec0n) March 16, 2020
-Stare at the blank page b4 u
-Open up the dirty window
-Let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find
-Reach 4 something in the distance (so close u can almost taste it)
-Release ur inhibitions
-Feel the rain on ur skin
Even if you aren’t sick, you could be a carrier. Covid-19 might not show symptoms for up to two weeks, which is why people returning from overseas are currently being isolated for 14 days upon arrival. You could be carrying the virus, and you might not even get seriously unwell, but you could pass it on to someone else who will.
If you can’t go out into the city, let the city come to you. Many of Sydney’s best coffee roasters are delivering. You can even get gluten-free, vegan meal boxes delivered. Some of our favourite bars can now sell alcohol for takeaway and delivery; you can even buy a whole keg of Espresso Martini.
Not everyone can stay home, but if you can, you must. For the sake of us all.
For the most up to date information on COVID-19 regulations, go to nsw.gov.au or see ABC News.