Happy New Year 2021 png
Australia, blogging

Social Distancing in Australia

So much for social distancing, I thought. Notwithstanding our relative safety here in Australia, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

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We’re allowed to attend social events again and in my state in Australia, we’re even permitted to sing, (something not all states, are allowed to do as yet).

How fortunate are we? Believe me, I do not take this for granted.

Apart from providing our contact details at all venues, society here has, by and large resumed to B.C. levels, [i.e. – before Covid]. Just in time for all that Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelry.

Until now, people were still hesitant to get close to one another. Would social distancing and clean hygiene practices be ditched for the sake of socializing and enjoyment in 2020, now a vaccine was on the horizon?

Being one of the unlucky ones with a respiratory system prone to serious illness, I was more than happy to continue to ‘elbow pump’ people, in the greeting that Covid made fashionable, until the ends of time. Hugging friends had become a thing of the past for me.

The 2020 pandemic, as well as my recent retirement, has meant that I’ve escaped the annual torture of suffering with each year’s strain of ‘Influenza’, as well as various bugs and infections that are an occupational hazard of working, as I did, with young children. 2020 was, for me, far healthier than previous years.

In fact, I’ve not seen a Doctor all year. Yay for me!

Fast forward to this year’s New Years Eve. Much of Australian society is back to normal, except for bans on large gatherings, as in city fireworks displays. *[Mind you, I still can’t fathom why Cricket and football matches in stadiums are exempt from this ban. Is there an invisible force field that protects sports spectators from the pandemic?]

cricket match

My plan for celebrating 2020 NYE at the Home by the Sea, involved attending a Karaoke Dinner at a local restaurant, with around 8 of my neighbours and friends. Dutifully, all of us scanned in our particulars, using the QR code on the table, upon arrival, for the purposes of contact tracing should anyone come down with the dreaded ‘Corona’ virus. We then looked forward to an evening of singing, good food and company. And it was indeed a fun night.

Yet, my heart did skip a beat as the waiter removed our individual plates after the first course, stating that the rest of the seven courses, would be served from disposable paper boats. Therefore, we should hang on to our cutlery, for the duration of the evening. Share plates of cheese and crackers and dessert had my hygiene radar twerking mildly, as did my wonderment at our used knives and forks scattered ominously across the table between courses.

Was I being a little paranoid about germs?

Singing into the Karaoke microphone, shared with 30 or so other drunken folk, was not encouraging for hygiene either. I couldn’t find a disinfectant wipe for the mic, anywhere on site, although there was plenty of hand sanitiser at the bar, which was well utilised. After my allotted drink or two, I relaxed, as did many others and begun to really enjoy the evening.

Abba, Shania Twain, Queen and Pink tunes were an absolute hoot to sing and really got everyone joining in with gusto. It was as if the floodgates of pent-up social energy had opened, energy they’d been harbouring for much of 2020.

Around Midnight, whilst our table was chinking glasses at a socially approved distance, a recent acquaintance I knew sitting at an adjacent table walked straight over to me, hugged me and without any warning landed a big sloppy, slightly drunken kiss, on my cheek.

“Eek! What if she has Covid?” was my very first thought.

To say the kiss felt strange, was an understatement. Something quite natural a year ago, now felt like a personal violation!

To put this into context, I haven’t kissed anyone other the ‘Moth‘, since the pandemic began! The legacy of Covid means I’ve not even kissed my elderly parents and now, this felt so – weird and wrong! Quickly noticing my shell-shocked response, the lady did offer a swift and heartfelt apology. But the damage was already done. A day later, I had my head perched over the toilet bowl/bucket, throwing up. The usual New Year’s Eve ‘Gastro’ Virus had found me. For many years, it appears regular as clockwork, in that first week of January after the New Year’s Eve parties. Was it the kiss, the unsanitised microphone, or just coincidence? Surely not the alcohol?

The silver lining, I could say was this 24 hour ‘wog,’ helped me lose some of those extra pounds I’d gained over Christmas. However, the dynamics of physical contact with friends has now completely changed in society.

Now recovered and back at the keyboard, I pondered the events as they unfolded. More worrying for me than getting a mild case of ‘gastro,’ was that folks are so quick to abandon safe hygiene practices and social distancing in the name of fun.

As far as the pandemic goes, we are not out of the woods in Australia, yet.

How quickly people forget.

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84 thoughts on “Social Distancing in Australia”

  1. That drunken response from a friend is one of the reasons why there is currently a total ban on alcohol in Sourh Africa. Also, alcohol related injuries have been taking up beds in hospitals, leaving covid patients stranded.

    But the social distancing is hard for me. I am a touchy person.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes I wonder at the long term ramifications of not showing physical affection. Will it change anything? Will we become like Victorians all over again.
      I can imagine alcohol causes many problems. Still banning it- wouldn’t that create a large black market for sly grog ?

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Ah yes, the wine industry. I hear laments from that quarter here in Australia. That Chinese tariffs are ruining their industry. I sometimes get annoyed as the winemakers appear so very wealthy compared to other ag farmers, and they pack far too many preservatives in their product. I really can’t say any more as my knowledge is limited in this area. Any measure that makes a society safer has to have some good in it.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, in the past we were urged to forego all that cleaning and sanitizing and experts were saying it was one reason why asthma was so prevalent in Australia. We were told to allow our kids to get dirty and mix with animals to build up a natural resistance to bugs and bacteria.
    Now , we have the opposite and are urged to clean ourselves to the bare bones, and apart from this hygiene, what happens to all those swipes and handwashing chemicals. Will millions of liters of chemicals all end up in our rivers and oceans.?
    Roads are already being littered with masks s well.
    It’s all so difficult. I like hugging and kissing and intimacy.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Phew, what a story! Here in the U.S. we are knee deep in Covid-19 land, and I can’t even conceive of celebrating the way you did. But, sounds as though all went well, even though you got a scare. And actually it was lovely to read about someone having fun in a normal way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I felt a little guilty writing about having a good time but if anything can be gained from Australia’s example it might be our contact tracing methods and border closure responses. Mind you, our population is much smaller than America or Europe and the density is lower, so that no doubt has helped us. I do hope society will return to normal for you asap, Laurie. After all, you have a vaccine and we don’t expect to have one until March at the earliest.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, Anne. You get “un-used” to doing it. Maybe some traditional manners will completely disappear like other outdated practices such as tipping one’s hat to a lady, for example?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the biggest causes of gastro is shared stuff. The nibbles on the pubs are the worse. Have a look at research of the fecal content of pub bar snacks, which can be quite similar to sharing food, touching but not eating. You know you want one but two are stuck together so you pull one off and put it back.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m amazed how people think the rules and guidelines only apply to other people. It’s definitely good luck rather than good management on the part of some individuals to remain free of Covid. And for that matter for the country to be in safe state it’s in. I wonder if Christmas and New Year are going to be our downfall!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am sure we will see a few more cases pop up, Chris. As Appeltjie pointed out, other non western cultures have a different view of personal space and because of that they may interpret rules in a different way. Hopefully the authorities are well equipped to track down recalcitrant cases hiding away somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought I was being careful too until I got that cheek kiss. Believe me if I had og seen that coming, I would have dodged it. I had never been to a karaoke evening so didn’t really know what to expect. People were selecting songs pressing buttons on the jukebox – it probably should have been sanitised as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We’ve avoided all those types of places. Only go grocery shopping and to the gym where the instructor or class members wipe down every piece of equipment as we go. And this is in Canberra where we haven’t had a case for months. NYE was at our beach house with us and our daughter and son-in-law.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. well thats too awful for you. So bad of that lady to just kiss you like that. I also don’t understand the obsession with sports here, although I am not Australian. Why are the stadiums allowed so many people! Going out for a celebration in a public place will bring on all sorts of germs! I was thinking of a trip to Tasmania and Melbourne in February but with the borders up and down like a yoyo might be better to stay put. Feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alison. I feel also that it is far too unstable to travel atm, unless you take a stand by fare and are prepared to stay longer or pay a hefty charge for quarantining afterward. Were you from England originally?

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          1. Perth is definitely my favourite ..there’s no other place like it in the world. I don’t miss my childhood home at all 😬
            I love going back for a visit
            I hated by school ..it was like St Trinians but worse 🤣

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Well it wasn’t a boarding school ..far from it ..just lots of fights everyday ..shenanigans behind the bike shed
                Too many kids in each class and teachers not being able to cope

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Eeeew gross! I’m not a hugger or kisser at the best of times so Covid restrictions on physical proximity are right up my alley. I have a couple of friends who still try but I just stick my elbow in their face and they get the hint. I hope you’re feeling recovered now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amanda, I scrolled through your post singing Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa.” I guess that Mona Lisa smile will have remain hidden for awhile. Best wishes and be safe. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  8. PDA was not part of my culture growing up and it took me years to get used to this very European habit of hugs and kisses for greeting. After all this while, it looks like I get to unlearn all that 🙂

    Australia has done a fine job of containing the virus, so while I’m a little envious I really can’t begrudge you guys. One day soon, we’ll all get back to normal … or a least a new normal, which is not where we are now.

    On a different topic of Aussie lingo .. I can guess what it means by context but what does ‘wog’ stand for?

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    1. The Aussie slang term, ‘Wog’ refers to a minor illness or ‘lurgy.’ I have got the wog, we might say. It is usually a cold, tummy bug or such like. There is another context in which the word wog is used. It has become un PC during the last two decades. Prior to that new immigrants, particularly from Greece and Italy, (the regions where the majority of immigrants hailed from in the post war – 1960’s era). Amongst the Greek population themselves, it doesn’t seem to be derogatory for them to refer to themselves as wog, only if an Anglo Aussie refers to them as such. There was even a sitcom series and film called Wog Boys at one point. Apparently Wiki backs up my thinking, but interestingly the derogatory sense of the word wog appears to have stemmed from UK. That surprised me.
      From Wiki: “Today, “wog” is used particularly in places in Australia with substantial numbers of Southern European Australians, as well as non-European Middle Eastern populations, such as in Sydney and Melbourne. As with other slang and prima facie profanity used in contemporary Australian English, the term “wog” may be employed either aggressively or affectionately within differing contexts.
      In Australian English, “wog” can also be used as a slang word for an illness such as a common cold or influenza, as in: “I’m coming down with a wog”. Such usage is not perceived as derogatory.[12] ”

      How long did it take you to get used to PDA – which I might add, I am not that much a fan of, in our family. Although a friendly hug is comforting at times.

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      1. Now that you say it, I remember that ‘wog’ was a derogatory term in English. That must have been in the back of my mind when I saw your post.

        On getting used to PDA … it must have been at least a couple years. I remember it was during university. Someone came at me with a big bear hug and I froze up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting- my Malaysian and Filipino friends do hug on greeting. They must have adapted as you did. Cultural practices and the concept of personal space seems relevant to a discussion on Covid. Bearing in mind the comments from Appeltjie, and Morocco.

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          1. Coincidentally .. .that first big hug? It came from a Malaysian friend 🙂 I’ve always felt bad about how I reacted. But times & customs change. We’ll do so again and be OK with it.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I hugged my Japanese guide in a heartfelt way as I was grateful for the unique experience she gave me when travelling in Japan. Her body stiffened and I realized it was wrong to do so….
              Sometimes a hus is spontaneous – it happens as a way to express emotion and afterwards we process it….

              Liked by 1 person

  9. I watched snippets of my nephew’s covid wedding. Small group, held outside, all the right protocol. But then the toasts started and the speeches. People relaxed, masks started to come down, the microphone got passed around. And I’m sure people started to speak more loudly as their consumption of alcohol increased. It was a perfect illustration of how easily a virus could spread at a social event. It all ended well, thankfully.

    I personally have no problem distancing from others. Quite happy to give all my affection to my spouse, but I know I am fortunate in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness there are folks that think like you, Catherine and I take your point about social events starting out well and ending as mine did, rather sloppily!
      This is exactly the sort of marketing I feel that they should be publicizing, so people can understand why they have to be strict about lockdown.
      I am grateful for the pandemic for a year off being hospitalized with the flu. I know it won’t last but for now, hands in the public sphere are generally cleaner and there is a better understanding of hygiene. That is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You would think alcohol would kill all the germs, but no alas it only kills common sense. not that there is too much of that around it seems. I am not a touchy feely person & I agree to be as concerned as you were is totally justified. I hope you have fully recovered. Have a wonderful week ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, all good here now, thanks so much for expressing your concern, Linda. I think alcohol can kill some germs but maybe not all…..
      It kills much more the tendrils of common sense, as you rightly stated.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. We now practice social distancing to combat transmission of Covid virus. That means keeping at least 1.5 metres if we can from the next person. In the street, in a queue at a shop and sitting next to someone on public transport. This is an effort to control the spread of the Corona virus from person to person. It is highly contagious. Do you not do this in Morocco?

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  11. Well said, Forestwood .I heard a lot things about Australia many years ago. But, now what’ s the novel of your country?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Where shall I start? We are a modern small country that made our wealth from agriculture, farming and minerals. Now we must look to another source of income if we are to maintain our high standard of living. We are tucked away in the corner of the world, so transport is always a problem.

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  12. We do forget all too easily! You have given voice to anxieties that have been fluttering in the periphery of my consiousness, Amanda.

    My family has been very careful with me because of my compromised lungs, and although most of Singapore seems to have returned to socialization (although still with masks in public, except for eating).

    I think it will be extremely challenging to stay vigilant when everyone else is behaving like BC days. I know I myself are guilty of standing too close to friends when we are chatting, and forget to maintain that 1 mètre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No doubt you will see spikes or outbreaks here and there until the majority of the population is vaccinated, Ju-Lyn. It is happening here like that. We have all but eliminated but as people return to mixing in society and borders open, it has to happen. You are lucky that in Singapore and Asia, PDA is not commonplace.

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  13. As you say social distancing it’s really hard not in Australia but also in others countries. But ,as you say in your country it’s really more harder .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. As the southern states are learning, we just can’t relax completely. The karaoke microphone situation horrified me to be honest. At school, we put cling wrap over the mic before a child uses it and then change it between students.
    I guess a hopeful thing is that we may see less illness in the community going forward as people are more aware of hygiene and how things are passed on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cling wrap is a great idea and it must work, otherwise you would not have used it. I wish I had known that. It was my first karaoke experience and I made sure that when I held the microphone and it was only once or twice, I held it far away from my face. Probably saved the audience from hearing my voice too clearly anyway!! Lol. I do love singing but my voice is not strong and it needs lot of practice to be anywhere near acceptable. Choirs are obsolete until December.
      I am very hopeful that the flu season won’t be as bad and there will be less of the folks that take their sick kids out to shopping centres dosed up on panadol!

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  15. Wow! That was quite the (terrible) experience! I haven’t kissed anyone except my husband, the entire year of 2020 and would have been shocked as well! Even now, when people don’t wear masks outside, within six feet, I’m flabbergasted. Especially in a country like the USA.

    My mind is surely altered. For now. Each time I watch a movie (which is rarely), I’m surprised at all those people shaking hands, gathering in groups, and hugging! So weird! Of course, this is all old (BC) footage, but still… We are warped. For now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see you have the Covid effect in relation to PDA’s as well, Liesbet. It is funny how quickly we adapt to a vastly different cultural experience, and then again, how quickly we can forget it if the guests at this restaurant are anything to go by. Of course, the alcohol makes us forget too.
      So for those people who say the world will never go back to what it was, this experience seems to contradict that.
      How is the book selling going? Are you happy with the results so far?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Not sure what PDA stands for… 😦

    I think Plunge is doing well. I have nothing to compare it to, since this is my first book. My romance writer friend, who I’m traveling with, is excited about my results.

    My goal is to sell at least enough copies to get my financial investment back, which will take a while. But… my book has been extremely well received by sailors and non-sailors, leading to fabulous reviews and reactions that touch my soul. And, that’s all worth it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear that Liesbet. I suppose you have invested quite a few thousand dollars to get it off the ground. (Forgive me if this is wrong, I really am not sure how much it might cost).
      PDA is public displays of affection – hugs kisses etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aha, thanks for explaining the PDA. I wonder whether this is a new term since the pandemic. Yes, you are right. I spent about US$2,700 for editors, cover artist, ISBN-numbers, and a few other odds and ends to publish Plunge as professionally as possible. It was my choice to “invest” this amount. Many self-published authors skip a few of these steps. But, being a perfectionist, I wanted my book to be the best version it could be. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. For your first book, it is nice to do it ‘right.’ You could choose to do it differently next time if you wanted to. I am still a bit clueless about ISBN numbers but I have to write the book first! Lol. Congratulations again on the publication and the sales.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m so glad things are going well in Australia. But that experience would have shaken me as well. I don’t remember the last time I went out on New Year’s eve. If ever. We ordered food for our NY dinner and found the restaurant closed tight. Apparently permanently. The only good one in this town.

    For someone to kiss my check would have probably made me freak a bit. I have to see an ophthalmologist next week because I’m losing vision quickly. I’m terrified even knowing we will both be wearing masks.
    I was walking today and a neighbor stopped her car to thank me for baked goods I left on her doorstep. We chatted a moment from the opposite sides of the street when I asked if I could give her my phone # in case they needed to reach me. She took out pen and paper at the same time I masked up before moving closer. I always carry one in my pocket, just in case. Will it ever end here. I’ve probably mentioned before that we are saving our celebrating here at home for Jan 20. God help us all, this has to end.

    Liked by 1 person

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