Asking for directions

Asking for directions

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That we can’t reopen our business or see our family or friends.It will be some consolation to see the “crime tape” ripped off the playgrounds next week, to watch children get to swing and slide and climb.I’m also looking forward to going for an evening walk to clear my head when I finish work at 8pm, now that the curfew has been bumped back to 9pm.

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But thinking any further forward can test the patience of even the most zen Melburnian.As our science reporter Liam Mannix confirmed, this isn’t the world’s longest lockdown

– that’s probably Santiago, Chile, where residents confined to their homes since March have only just been permitted to go out for walks. Nor are our rules the toughest in the world, not when President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that anyone flouting restrictions in the Philippines should be shot. But we’re competitive in the long, tough lockdown stakes, and while it’s astonishing how quickly we can become accustomed to what was once unthinkable, the current stage four lockdown does feel weird and dystopian.Our late-night, live music city is shuttered and much of what we associate with spring – sports, music, theatre, shopping, parties – is cancelled.It’s not lifeless though – we are so acutely aware of our neighbours now, walking the streets, waving from gardens, heading, like the rest of us, to the nearest green spaces. The little walking trails near my house are always full of families and cyclists. They are still social distancing, but it’s now actually cheering to go out and see people, even if we’re queueing for coffee.The business of planning a return to ‘COVID normal’ is clearly as complex as it is controversial. Readers have been engaged in the debate, and not just in the comments – sending in their feedback on everything from the single-person bubble bylaws to the necessity of curfew. As senior reporter Henrietta Cook outlines,
this measure is testing many who otherwise support the state government’s plan.The economic pain of lockdown is profound, and will cast its shadow on city life for a long time to come. No serious person debating the issues is arguing that Melbourne should just ditch all restrictions – we’ve seen overseas the toll economic as well as mortal of unchecked infections.But The Age
believes there are plenty of points to debate, and not just by captains of industry or the three levels of government – local, state and federal. Even the nation’s leading epidemiologists have widely differing views about how we should get out of this safely.

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We plan to ask your questions and examine all the aspects of this road map. The Premier takes a great deal of time every day to state his case for the tough choices he has made. We will bring you other voices, from the lived experience in the town to the best minds in Australia, asking them for directions too.In some exciting news for

before becoming Melbourne editor at Guardian Australia. Gay is a three-time Walkley Award winner who has served as The Age’s Washington correspondent, deputy editor and editor of the

Sunday Age.I’ll be helping with her transition and you’ll be hearing from her soon. I’m also looking forward to returning to my position as world editor in time for what US correspondent Matthew Knott this week described in our new Trump Biden 2020 newsletter (which you can sign up for here) as “a unique moment in time: a presidential election colliding with the coronavirus pandemic”.

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