By Max King, Auscare Support Managing Director
I write this article from a house in South Australia. My wife, son and I have travelled here from our home in NSW to be with family who are unwell. We were stopped at the SA border and our details were noted, our address recorded – both where we are from and where we will be staying. We have been told 27,000 people have come across the border into SA since the borders have closed.
Today, when I read the papers, it seems like some of the very draconian but necessary restrictions on our freedom of movement and gatherings are likely to be lifted… and many others withdrawn within the coming days and weeks.
So, let’s talk about the positives and negatives of the next phase of coming out of the COVID lockdown.
The biggest fear that I have is trying to rush society back to “normal” or the new-normal. This may be too soon and may result in a second wave of the virus spreading.
As the provider of support workers to people with disability, our client base is more vulnerable than other people, with potentially compromised or weaker immune systems. It is potentially catastrophic to people with disability or those older Australians… the last thing that any of us in the disability sector need is more stress and more challenges.
If we try to end the social distancing in shops and we pare back the awareness and adherence to the distancing – then the potential for the virus to spread will be magnified.
Both of these negatives are compounded by the potential that if required to isolate and socially distance again in the future, the general population may not adhere to the requests and simply ignore government.
This could lead to the reality of a crackdown by force – as we saw in some of the video’s posted from Wuhan, where individuals suspected of having the virus, were forcibly removed from their apartments by hazmat suit wearing army officials… to be forcibly quarantined.
A very dystopian thought for the sunny streets of suburban Australia.
But then not everyone thinks this will be negative… let’s look at some of the positives.
Many people will be mentally relieved that the stress and worry about catching the virus will have been reduced. We will all be more conscious of washing hands, giving each other space, being patient and relaxed in queues, and of being grateful that we live in a country where food is (generally) plentiful, where we can go for a walk in (relatively) uncrowded forests or beaches.
There will also be all of these:
The easing of restrictions may also mean that those places really affected by the economic shutdown, the restaurants and bars, the pubs and clubs – can reopen and rehire their skilled workforce.
The travel and tourism industry, already blighted by fires and floods, can get an injection of money to enable them to begin to live more comfortably.
For those in the disability sector – support workers who have been unable to go into their client’s homes, those individuals who have been stuck at home – with no access to the community and no ability to socialise, will have day programs reopening and outings begin again.
At Auscare Support – we hope that these easing of restrictions do not come too soon… and that the restrictions do not cause any infections or deaths amongst the disability community.
Are we hopeful that the government has this timed correctly – absolutely. But are we more cautious and do we temper our excitement with the reality that there is no cure, no vaccine and none in sight… absolutely.