2020/2021 – The craziest years of my life so far
Early 2020 saw Australia start to hear about the rise of Coronavirus (Covid-19) which was fast spreading across the world. Coronavirus (Covid-19) was declared a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020. By mid-March 2020, a lot of Australia was forced to adapt to new ways of working. This meant working out ways for people to be able to work from home as efficiently as possible. While there were a few hurdles for the company I worked for, we managed to sort it out and make it work.
As I was living only a few minutes drive from the office, as well as having my own little space in a downstairs room of the office, I was still going in each day. Most of the team were working from home for a few months.
A few notable events occurred in 2020 that (in my 36 years of life so far) were unheard of;
- Schools were cancelled March 15, 2020, except for children of those working in essential services and parents were asked to home school
- Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers 2m (6ft) from each other
- Only a limited number of people were allowed inside stores, therefore lineups outside the store doors
- Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed
- Parks, trails, entire cities locked up
- Entire sports seasons were cancelled
- Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events were all cancelled
- Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings were all cancelled
- No masses, churches were closed
- No gatherings of 50 or more, then 20 or more, then down to 5 or more
- People were told not to socialize with anyone outside of their home
- Children’s outdoor play parks were closed
- We were told we have to distance ourselves from each other. Now commonly referred to as social distancing
- A shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers
- There was a shortage of ventilators for the critically ill
- Panic buying sets in and idiots started to panic-buy things like toilet paper, disinfecting supplies, paper towels, laundry soap and hand sanitiser. The shelves were literally bare
- Petrol prices were at a record low
- Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitiser and PPE
- Government closes the border to all non-essential travel, calls Australians home and makes it mandatory to self isolate for 14 days
- Fines are established for breaking the rules
- The Federal Government hands out the biggest financial aid package in Australia’s history
- Private hospital facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients
- Press conferences daily from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Dept officials
- Chief Medical Officer gives daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
- Government incentives to stay home
- Barely anyone in the street or on the roads
- People started wearing masks and gloves outside
- Essential service workers are terrified to go to work
- Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families
- Only essential businesses were allowed to open like fresh food, groceries, pharmacies, Medical centres and Newsagents
- Unprecedented applications for Employment assistance as people go without work and businesses close their doors
- Many of my friends were out of work for months
- They say it started in Wuhan, China at a market. Hundreds of thousands were affected, dead, dying, critically ill, however, as the months went on, many recovered.
While restrictions started to loosen on the Central Coast and people started going back to work, August 2020 was the peak of an extremely tough time in my career. I took a couple of weeks off work to focus on my mental health and clear my head. I returned to work on the agreement that I would no longer be in the Product Owner role and resume my role as UI/UX Designer.️
The start of 2021 saw vaccines introduced, people got vaccinated and there were a few cases of people suffering severe blood clots and consequently died!
For the first few months of 2021, everything seemed to be going OK. Then in June, there was an outbreak in Sydney and we all had to start wearing masks, even inside at work. A week later there was another outbreak that caused a 2-week ‘lockdown’ across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour. Everyone in my company has since been working from home for a 2 week period.
As I write this journal entry on Saturday, 10th July 2021, I have just finished the 2nd week of working from home and an announcement was made by the NSW Premier (Gladys Berejiklian) on Wednesday 7th July 2021 that the ‘lockdown’ will be extended for another week until 16th July 2021.
As of 5:00 pm Friday, 9th July 2021, the following additional restrictions were put in place:
- Outdoor public gatherings limited to two people (excluding members of the same household);
- People must stay in their Local Government Area or within 10kms of home for exercise and outdoor recreation, with no carpooling between non-household members;
- Browsing in shops is prohibited, plus only one person per household, per day, may leave the home for shopping;
- Funerals limited to ten people in total (this will take effect from Sunday, 11th July 2021);
The four reasons to leave your home remain in place:
- Shopping for food or other essential goods and services (one person only);
- Medical care or compassionate needs (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons);
- Exercise with no more than 2 (unless members of the same household);
- Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home.
These tightened restrictions were based on health advice from the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.
Apart from going to get groceries, I am quite happy to stay at home and tinker around. During the last outbreak, Karina and I were living in Point Frederick in a small apartment. The craziest part of all this is that Karina and I purchased our first home in late September 2020 and moved in at the end of November. I now have a dedicated workspace and a much larger area to tinker and keep myself occupied.
There are Covid popup testing stations located around the area, and getting tested regularly is encouraged.
I’m super grateful that I’ve been able to continue working throughout the last 18 months. Likewise, Karina has been working the whole time as well.
For now, I will keep working from home and wearing my mask while I go get groceries. It’s an interesting time, let’s see what happens next.
Wednesday 14 July 2021
Given the ongoing number of infectious cases in the community, the current lockdown will be extended for at least another 2 weeks until 11:59 pm on Friday 30th July 2021.
Wednesday 28th July 2021
Given low vaccination rates, the current stay at home orders will remain in place for another four weeks (until Saturday, 28th August 2021 at 12.01am) across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour.
Other restriction changes are as follows:
⚠ From midnight 28th July 2021:
In line with exercise rules, Greater Sydney residents including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour must limit their shopping to within their Local Government Area (LGA) or, if outside their LGA, within 10km from home, unless the item is not available locally.
Given localised case numbers, the Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River LGAs will join the five existing LGAs of concern which are subject to an Authorised Workers Order. Only authorised workers in these eight LGAs may leave their LGA for work. The five previously announced LGAs of concern are Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland.
⚠ From 12.01am, Saturday, 31st July 2021:
Construction in non-occupied settings outside of the LGAs of concern (with no residents on-site) will re-open as planned, subject to a one-person per 4sqm rule. These low-risk construction sites must have COVID safe plans in place, compliance will be strictly enforced. Construction cannot resume in the eight LGAs of concern, nor will construction workers be allowed to leave these areas.
Tradespeople, including cleaners who are able to work with zero contact with residents, will also be allowed to resume (no more than two people inside and five outside). If contactless arrangements are not possible, work cannot go ahead. This work will not be allowed in the eight LGAs of concern, nor will workers be allowed to leave these areas.
A singles bubble will also be introduced, allowing people who live alone to nominate one designated family member or friend to visit for companionship. Restrictions will apply for people in the LGAs of concern.
⚠ Changes to surveillance testing (enforceable from Saturday, 31st July 2021):
All authorised workers from Canterbury-Bankstown LGA must get tested once every three days in order to leave their LGA for work.
People who live in the Fairfield and Cumberland LGAs but work outside these areas as health or aged care workers (including support services for health or aged care, such as cleaners, cooks and security providers) must be tested once every three days in order to be allowed to go to work outside their LGA.
These surveillance testing requirements will be enforceable from Saturday, 31st July 2021. However, relevant workers will have from today to get their first test.
⚠ Year 12 students are also set to return to face-to-face learning on Monday, 16th August 2021, with the Government finalising plans for the resumption of in-class study under strict COVID protocols.
The NSW Government is also working with industry and the Department of Education to introduce Rapid Antigen Testing to mitigate against outbreaks in workplaces and schools.
Full Statement: https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/certainty-for-community-as-restrictions-adjusted-and-vaccines-ramped-up
Tuesday 17th August 2021
New restrictions have been put in place for Greater Sydney (this includes the Central Coast). You can travel up to 5kms from your home, even if it takes you outside your LGA. You can also travel anywhere within your LGA. Do not enter an LGA of concern.
From Saturday 21st August 2021 you need a permit to leave Greater Sydney if you are:
- An authorised worker from LGAs of concern
- Inspecting real estate for a home to live in (not an investment property)
- Travelling to a second home for work, to carry out urgent repairs, or to care for stock/animals (only one person allowed to travel).
To help contain the current COVID-19 outbreak, on the spot fines issued by NSW Police have increased, these include:
- $500 for failing to wear or carry a mask (18 years or older)
- $1,000 for breach of a public health order
- $3,000 for participating in an outdoor gathering of more than two people
- $3,000 for breaching rules around leaving Greater Sydney to travel to regional NSW if you don’t meet the criteria
- $5,000 for failure to self-isolate if diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you are a close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
New check-in card if you can’t check-in with your mobile phone
The new COVID-19 check-in card is a printed card with a QR code unique to you that has your contact details. It means you can easily check-in when you visit a business, simply present your card to a staff member who will scan it for you.
The check-in card isn’t mandatory. It provides a way to check-in to businesses for those who don’t have a mobile or those who find it difficult to check-in with your mobile.
Once you’ve created your card, it can be posted to you, or you can download a printable version to print out at home.