2020: The new normal

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 Permalink

“Oh of course they’d need to leave time after we finish to sanitise the table and chairs for the next booking,” I said to a friend last weekend.

We were going for drinks and I was checking to see if our 2hr booking was for 5.15 or 5.30pm. It was the former, with the next ‘sitting’ at 7.30.

Popular restaurants and cafes have long had ‘sittings’ so they can fit as many as possible in each evening but of course, the term has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus restrictions.

What disturbed me about the conversation with my friend was that it seemed so normal. “Oh yes, the disinfecting!” is like a no-brainer.

I’m now used to pausing at the entrance to a store to queue behind those sanitising their hands; or waiting in the event there are already too many people in the shop (for its square footage).

Crossing the state borders is no longer an anticlimax. Now there are¬†bloody checkpoints. I don’t think they’re searching cars as one sees on overseas television shows involving gun runners, fugitives, people traffickers and drug dealers, but I’m wondering if it might come to that.

the new normal

Late last year the rest of the world was slightly horrified as we saw Chinese police spraying corridors of buildings with disinfectant and chasing down people who tried to leave them. Pinning them to the ground and marching them back inside. And now, here in Australia we recently ‘locked down’ buildings in one of our states, posting police guards.

People will always complain but I feel our government(s) have done a pretty good job. They’ve been trying to balance the risk of infection with getting the economy back up and running. It can’t be easy and we’ve never seen anything like this before so it’s almost impossible to know if what we’re doing is right or wrong until it’s too late. My state has been erring on the side of caution and I’m relieved about that though I know others aren’t.

Cafes and restaurants have been allowed to have increasing numbers over the past month. Pubs and clubs have now opened but with social distancing. And I laughed when I heard this… but NO DANCING. It’s like Footloose all over again! Our Premier stated that people could listen to music but not dance.

I swear I saw something on social media that offered some tips for ‘chair dancing’. And then a couple of days ago….

Egad!

Months ago this would have all been unimaginable. My social media feed is full of people in other countries who’ve not left home for weeks. For months. We’ve been more fortunate here in Australia. Dare I say we’ve probably become a little complacent. My entire state of Queensland has ONE active case of the virus at the moment. And it’s a bloody big state.

Indeed I often drive past my hometown’s ‘fever testing clinic’ and never see any vehicles queued or people waiting to be tested. It’d be nice if that remained the case but, as we’ve seen elsewhere in Australia, we shouldn’t be smug. A re-emergence of some sort (or god forbid, a second wave) seems inevitable and though we’re all exhausted and anxious it’s also weird how ‘normal’ this has become. Even the bad bits.

Almost since ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolating’ became part of our vocabulary I watched in horror as people on television hugged and shook hands. As if that had not been the norm for decades, if not centuries.

In many ways this feels very surreal, but most of us have changed our habits and accepted the new normal.

How has your world changed? Are you surprised at the things you’ve come to expect or accept?¬†

35 Comments
  • Kate W
    July 7, 2020

    Well, as a Melburnian, I am absolutely devastated tonight that we are back in lockdown (it’s the right decision, but devastated that some groups of people didn’t follow the rules and now we’re all paying the price). I started a new job at the end of last year and I have now been officially working at home longer than I was in the office – the irony given that I sought a new job because I was tired of working from home… that said, I am obviously very grateful to have a job.

    • Debbish
      July 8, 2020

      I didn’t mind the lockdown too much but know I’m fortunate I don’t have kids to entertain and am very much used to socially isolating…

      I feel so bad for Melbournians having to go back into lockdown and the ‘6wk’ announcement I think makes it more daunting. I hope we start to see a downward trend in your infection stats soon…. as a result of the increased testing and early intervention.

      And I’d be very very surprised if other states (if not all) don’t experience the same thing.

  • 3sistersabroad
    July 8, 2020

    Just as I was starting to catch up with dear friends we are now in lockdown again from midnight tonight. Im angry that things should have been handled better in the first place. At least I have a backyard for the dogs to do their business. A friend messaged me last night. Her bestie is in one of the towers lockdown completely and has a dog and cant take it outside at all. Promised that people from outside would be able to walk their dogs has not happened. Her dog is confused and hasn’t gone to the loo since Saturday even tried taking it into the bathroom. I hope something happens soon for her and others that live in the towers, although its not looking promising. Surely they cant be in complete lockdown for 6 weeks. He did say it would be for 5 days. Looks like a lot of writing, playing more darts and Netflix and Foxtel coming up. Oh and baking lol..if i can get supplies. This time Im prepared as we had just moved in to our house in March and I had only basics..Freezer and Fridge were empty. #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 8, 2020

      I thought they were going to ‘open’ the towers now and have the same rules as the rest of Melbourne? I might be wrong of course!

      I’m sure other states will have similar problems and I pondered the same… not hoarding but at least having stuff on hand so I don’t get caught this time if things get dire and others panic-buy again. (Of course my essentials are things like diet coke and chocolate….)

  • Jo
    July 8, 2020

    I totally feel for Melburnians yet it’s absolutely a lesson against complacency – something I think we’ve all been a little of late. It irks me that a few people bending the rules have ruined it for so many & set us back in this way.

    • Debbish
      July 8, 2020

      I was at my new exercise class this morning. We’re supposed to bring our own weights but I don’t have any so borrow them from the trainer. After we’re supposed to spray them with Glenn 20 and some other stuff after we use them. We did it but one of the others commented that they weren’t sure why we were bothering given we’ve got just one or two cases in the state.

      I know what she means, but I think it’s worth keeping consistent behaviours for the foreseeable future. So, not hanging out in large groups / distancing / minimising time in shops etc…

      • Jo
        July 9, 2020

        it’s frightening how easily we become complacent.

        • Debbish
          July 9, 2020

          I know and it feels justified. “Oh, there’s only one case in the entire state and it’s in Brisbane, so we don’t need to worry,” kind of thing.

          I know it’s wrong and yet find myself thinking just that. And yet when the virus first appeared on our radar I was horrified and quite panicked about the impact it would have on ‘us’.

  • BoomingOn
    July 8, 2020

    Yes, feel for those in Melbourne but it can happen anywhere and clearly there were a small number of people who have ruined it for everyone else by not doing the right thing. I ventured out to a restaurant a few nights ago (in a COVID-19 free city) and everyone was spaced and clean and I was being very vigilant. However, I was surprised when a group of 30 somethings entered and greeted their friends with cheek kisses, so yes, complacency creeping in. Everyone I know does an aerial elbow.

    • Debbish
      July 8, 2020

      I’ve been really careful on the hugging and kissing front. I’ve hugged my godson and his mum locally. I had a couple of old school friends visit last week and we hugged hello. I wasn’t sure and we had a conversation about it – which is weird in itself. One of the friends is nurse who heads up operating theatres so said they’re tested often.

      I’ve been out a couple of times but the places I’ve been to require bookings and you normally need to give a contact address now. They seem to be adhering to booking numbers and limits. I suspect some of the bigger issues are with people’s parties and the like. My mother has neighbours who often have large gatherings.

      • BoomingOn
        July 8, 2020

        Even if 99.9% of us do the right thing, there will always be those who don’t, even accidentally and therein lies the problem.

  • leannelc
    July 8, 2020

    It’s made me very grateful to be in WA and away from all the latest craziness – although why we’re letting Vic footy players fly here is beyond me??? Just cancel the darn season – they break the covid rules left right and centre – and I don’t see why they get exemptions while normal people can’t visit dying relatives or new babies! Grrrr. Anyhoo, grateful that things here are normal – but I think I’ll now be forever wiping my shopping trolley handle and using the hand sanitizer when I go to Coles – and I still flinch when someone (myself included) coughs – or worse still….sneezes!
    #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 8, 2020

      I’m aghast re the footballers as well. I assume they’d go into quarantine for two weeks but someone I know shared a picture of one of the Melbourne teams training (in Brisbane or one of our Coasts).

      It doesn’t seem fair that some groups are given special treatment!

  • endardoo
    July 8, 2020

    Over here in Ireland, the social distancing thing has been taking a bit of a hammering, especially young people, but so far, the numbers have been, to my mind, surprisingly steady … but second wave looks likely, I fear! #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      Yes, one of our states has had an increase. Not sure if it’s a second wave or still the first. We’ve been pretty fortunate in the overall scheme of things.

  • Anne
    July 8, 2020

    Hi! This was a lovely read that made me chuckle… thank you! I love the reference to Footloose and how true that it’s so weird to stop people from dancing. But you’re right that it’s also amazing how we manage to adapt to a new normal and what we can achieve.

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      I think it’s probably good that we’re able to adapt to change as we’d struggle more otherwise. I had started talking about the fact it’d be nice to take some of the changes we’re making forward into a ‘new normal’ (making more time for family and being less ‘busy’) but then the tone of the post changed… so that positive one can wait a little while.

  • Denyse Whelan
    July 8, 2020

    I hear you on complacency and I plead guilty. “Everyone” around here is acting as they used to. There are still some checks at Drs, etc…and some care for social distancing but I know I took my foot off the brake. Now that Vic is in lockdown, NSW won’t be far behind. Far too many people on school hols visiting from different areas. As of today, we ordered ‘real deal’ masks for when we have to go out to interact with others and there is going to be less of that from me very soon anyway with hospital coming up. I am a bit wary of that but it’s a private hospital and they have good protocols in order. Sigh. It’s horrible though isn’t it?
    Denyse #mlstl

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      I haven’t got a mask yet but must organise some. I remember months ago using a sanitising wipe every time I got in my car after a chore… so after the post office, after grocery shopping, after filling the car with fuel… I’d go through like 5 or 6 wipes in an outing. Whereas now I don’t use one at all when I get back into my car and wash my hands when I get home.

      I think though, if cases here increased again I’d get more vigilant again.

      The private hospital here has a scanning thing you have to stand in front of to take your temperature and some sort of image so I’m sure yours will be the same. I was surprised when I overnighted in the emergency dept a month or so ago that none of the staff wore masks or anything, though guess they’re aware of ‘who’ is in the beds and what’s wrong with us.

  • Debbie
    July 8, 2020

    There are so many ‘new normals’ these days aren’t there? I am feeling bad for Victorians and don’t think for a minute that we can all be in their shoes in a flash. I flinch now when seeing people hug and gather closely together on TV shows these days too. #mlstl

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      I remember noticing the TV thing early on. Almost as soon as restrictions re distancing came in. I suddenly noticed when people on TV hugged or shook hands. Or dined out in groups. It seemed weird. And wrong.

  • Natalie
    July 8, 2020

    Over here in Ontario, even though many businesses have been allowed to re-open (e.g. hair salons, restaurant patios, etc.), I haven’t gone to them. Gyms are not allowed to open yet. We still have cases and continue to be reminded to stay vigilant even though the numbers have shown a downward trend. #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      I think everything has pretty much opened in Australia and in my state (though the city of Melbourne is locking down again). Our numbers got pretty low there for a while and yes, I think we became complacent. Having said that I assume it won’t be eradicated as we have to open borders (even internationally) at some stage, but gather the plan is our health system will be able to cope better with fewer cases spread over a longer time. Thankfully our mortality rate is quite low. I don’t know how it holds up proportionally but guess I’m interested to see how treatment continues to progress until a vaccine is found.

  • patwdoyle11
    July 9, 2020

    It is fascinating to hear what other parts of the world feel like from real people’s perspective. To have one case in the state is mind-blowing. Here in the USA, I follow 2 states closely (we have homes in each) and in Florida, there were 6000 new cases yesterday. And that number was down from the previous 5 days. Yes, one day there were 11,000 new cases in Florida. There is no lockdown, and getting people to wear masks in public is a battle. People feel like being asked to wear a mask is infringing on their personal freedom. Personally, we only go out to grocery shop, to the hardware store, or to the doctors – and wear masks in all those places. We are beginning to join-up with friends outside for either a chat on the deck/patio or a walk in the park with wide paths. And all that feels risky to me, but 4 months of minimal social contact has been tough. Going to an indoor restaurant, the gym, a bar, or a party just feels like insanity…and yet, many are doing it every day (hence the 6000 new cases). Im not sure when the US will have a downward trend and that is scary.

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      Oh yes Pat we watch the US cases rise with horror and I hope they start to drop off soon. Our numbers were very low before the government reopened things and a lot of people complained they waited too long, but in retrospect I think it was the right thing to do.

      Even now one of our states (well a city really) has had high numbers (like 100+ new cases several days in a row), the government of that state has acted pretty quickly to lock it down for 6wks. You can only go out for one of four reasons (and there’s flexibility there). I think, though most people in Melbourne are upset about it, they recognise it needs to be done to prevent numbers from spiralling out of control.

  • Anne Fraser @theplatinumline.blog
    July 9, 2020

    I am in England. We are slowly opening up again but people are still a bit scared. It seems strange to see people in masks but luckily we understand queues . No music yet.

    • Debbish
      July 9, 2020

      Masks haven’t been required here yet Anne. I suspect it’s because our numbers / community infections haven’t previously been high but that might change with the spate in Melbourne. I do see some people wearing masks in the small town in which I live and I’ll certainly be wearing one if some cases start to appear. I would never judge anyone for taking precautions. My father had a heart transplant so was immunosuppressed. He would have basically had to stay home all of this time.

  • Sue from Women Living Well After 50
    July 9, 2020

    Hi Deb, I agree that in Qld I’ve applauded the cautionary approach to reducing the restrictions. However, as Jo said, complacency can quite easily but is all back to square one. Where I run in New Farm on Saturdays, people must not have received the social distancing memo. I feel for the Melburnians and their return to strict lockdown procedures however, with the daily numbers of positive cases what else can the Government do? Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL

    • Debbish
      July 11, 2020

      Most people seem to be annoyed about the lockdown again in Melbourne Sue, but I think most seem to agree there’s no alternative. In reality it seems unlikely it won’t reappear elsewhere around the country.

  • Christie Hawkes
    July 9, 2020

    For better or worse, I’ve gotten used to the masks, Deb, and the sanitizing is a comfort to me. I’ve always felt there should be more of that in public places. It’s funny though when I watch an interview-type show or a documentary, I automatically place them in the pre-COVID or post-COVID category based on how close they are sitting or if they shake hands. As an introvert, you wouldn’t think I would miss the casual connections of working in the office or public gatherings, but I do. Mostly I miss the easy stopping off to dine in a restaurant or calling friends or extended family together without considering all the logistics of social distancing. Our city and state are still experiencing high numbers of new infections. Right now, our hospitals have more capacity, but it is a bit scary.

    • Debbish
      July 11, 2020

      I was out here this morning Christie and everyone seems fairly complacent. It’s hard – we only have a couple of cases in the entire state, so my little corner has none at the moment, but there could be undiagnosed cases of course which then transmit cos we’re not distancing enough and then the numbers explode again.

      I don’t own a mask but must work out where to get them. The only ones I’ve seen were very flimsy paper ones but I suspect they’re better than nothing.

  • Deb
    July 13, 2020

    it is still odd how much things have changed. Here is the U.S. it’s a disaster! People blatantly disregarding safety protocols with no concern for others. I’m in Massachusetts where the numbers continue to steadily decline but I am worried that the rest of the country will see widespread lockdowns again which will disrupt economies, food delivery, etc. I’ve come to accept wearing a mask but hope it won’t go on for too long. We are doing a lot of outside activities and visits. My biggest worry is winter and how my Dad will survive being alone for so long. We keep trying to get him to come live with us but he won’t. Such an awful time.

    • Debbish
      July 13, 2020

      The stats coming out of the US are horrifying. Each day new records are set!

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