Daily Archives: June 1, 2021

Melbourne madness

The lack of media coverage of the Covid outbreak in Australia is . . . funny.  I mean, back when Trump was in charge, all we heard was how great New Zealand was handling things, and if only Trump was more competent, we, too, could be like New Zealand.  NZ being an ISLAND nation with a population of 4 million and, literally, more sheep than people.

Australia has far more favorable conditions than the US, being a remote island with 1/10th the population density of the US, but it’s still a better comparison than NZ, since it has 25 million people.  (It turns out contagious diseases like larger populations.  In fact, there is a minimum population below which a virus cannot survive, based on its infectiousness and severity.)  In any case, Melbourne is back in Lockdown.  This is, for those who are counting, the FOURTH lockdown.

Now, here in the US, the term lockdown is bandied about, but what it has really meant, even in conservative states like Washington, is restaurant closures and capacity limitations across the board, as well as limitations on gatherings.  Many states explicitly allow demonstrations, a la the George Floyd demonstrations, but also anti-lockdown demonstrations.

In Australia, and in Melbourne in particular (and to a lesser extent in Europe), in means something very different.  People are literally locked down, and not allowed to leave their homes without permission.  Even when one has secured a permit to, say, go to the grocery store, that store must be within 5 KM of your house, if such a store exists.

The current lockdown is not this severe, but it’s still pretty bad.  Last week, people were restricted to staying within 5 KM of their house.  This has been increased to 10 KM this week.  But they are enforcing it.

  • In Melbourne, the five reasons to leave home will remain the same — shopping for food and essential supplies, authorised work or study, care and care-giving, exercise and getting vaccinated.
  • The list of authorised workplaces will also expand to include outdoor jobs like landscaping and painting.
  • After months of concern about QR code compliance, the Service Victoria QR code check-ins will now be mandatory across the whole state for places like supermarkets and shops.
    • I believe this is to verify people are staying within their 10 KM or not exceeding their allowable shopping trips – not sure which but standby for when I have time to Google it.
  • Food and hospitality venues will be open for “seated service only” with the density rule of one person per four square metres.
  • Regional Victorians can only travel to Melbourne for a permitted reason and the Melbourne restrictions apply once they are there.

  • Regional businesses will be compelled to check the IDs of everyone they serve to ensure they are not from Melbourne.
    • In other words – people who live in Melbourne are not allowed to leave, and they are checking IDs to ensure this is enforced.

To put this in perspective, the population of Victoria is 6.7 million.  Yesterday, there were SIX cases detected.  But, because they have put all their marbles in the no Covid ever basket, this is basically catastrophic.

If I lived in Melbourne, I would be in a cold fury over how the virus got in in the first place.  With so much at stake, how could it be allowed to happen?

But lately, I’ve been wondering what Australia’s end game is.  How do they open up?  They would need to have a very high percentage of the population vaccinated to even allow vaccinated individuals in, given that even Pfizer and Moderna are only 90% effective.  And J&J doesn’t necessarily prevent people from transmitting the disease, though it reduces the severity.  So someone with a J&J vaccine isn’t a safe entrant by any stretch.  Once they whole population is vaccinated, do they just let Covid in and let it spread?  God forbid a variant emerges against which the vaccine isn’t effective.  Things have not been looking great in the UK lately, if you’ve been watching the numbers.

virtual Pride

In other parts of the country, there has been a debate about whether police officers should be allowed to participate in the Pride parade.  (I don’t see why not.  I would think it’s probably challenging being a gay police officer.)

It was two weeks before the start of Pride month, and the organization that runs New York’s Pride march was fighting about cops. The leadership had just announced that officers could no longer take part in the march, including a contingent of L.G.B.T.Q. officers that has marched in uniform since 1996.

The officers were angry. The mayor called it a mistake.

At a tense Zoom meeting on May 20, members of the organization, Heritage of Pride, tore into their leadership, moving to overturn the ban and unseat the executive board. Some called the ban no different from the discrimination they all faced.

Passions flared on both sides of the issue, often dividing along racial or class lines. After two hours of debate, members voted to overrule their own board, allowing cops to march.

If only Seattle were having such arguments.  But, no.  Instead, we have this:

For many, the celebration commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion marks summer in Seattle, and after it went virtual last year due to the pandemic, the community was looking forward to an epic, in-person celebration this year.

However, Pride will be held online again this summer.

Marx described the virtual experience as “a sort of ‘choose your own adventure.’”

From a central virtual lobby, through the online events platform Hopin, attendees can choose to go to different virtual stages to experience speakers, musicians or group activities, like “Bedroom Bing” with local drag personality Cookie Couture or styling tips for newbie drag artists from local drag artist Aleksa Manila.

Political representatives, sponsors and reps from different organizations will be available in video chatrooms like virtual “booths.” There will also be networking opportunities where an attendee can choose to be randomly matched with someone else for a video chat (a digital security team will be on hand to prevent or address any virtual attacks).

Sounds like a blast!  Not.

There are some things that can reasonably be done virtually.  I can see, for example, how a quilt festival done virtually might not be the same as if it were held live, but still hold a lot of value.  However, there are a lot of things which should just be canceled.  Parades of any variety certainly spring to mind as one of those things.  Road races are another.  (I just love going to the site of a road race and seeing, “This year, we’re going virtual!” as if it’s something to be excited about.)  I haven’t given my money to any virtual events as a matter of principle.