I travelled to NSW last week for a couple of family weddings and noticed a couple of changes since I left there mid-pandemic last year.
- Everybody takes social distancing very seriously. Standing in the checkout line at Bunnings, a bloke was guarding his space using a 3m stick of lumber. 1.5 in front & 1.5 behind… He was assiduously keeping other shoppers at bay.
- Masks are no longer a foreign concept. As of today they’ve re-introduced an instruction to wear masks on Public Transport, but I saw a lot of people wearing them voluntarily when in mixed-company and inside spaces – think shopping centres, restaurants, theatres etc. Just 12 months ago people were questioning why anybody would ever need a mask…
- Everybody checks in; everywhere. It’s habitual and nobody questions the need. As a result, NSW has an elevated capability to do rapid contact tracing.
Despite all that, NSW now has a mystery case of community transmission and they’re scrambling to quell an uptick in infections… They’ll likely succeed for the above reasons.
In contrast, I stepped off the plane Sunday afternoon and was shepherded through the Bio-Security maze at LST with absolutely nobody keeping their distance. Admittedly, all were masked while in the airport, but it was a crush despite LST staff’s best efforts to keep us separated. One declaration and a temperature check later, and I was on-the-loose and into the community. At the baggage carousel, no social-distancing… Later that day I became ill and toppled quickly. The next morning, a COVID test was arranged and though thankfully, I was negative, it was worrying to learn on Monday of Sydney’s new mystery-case. Though I was nowhere near the exposure sites ( I was up in Byron Bay) its easy enough to believe a casual cross-infection could make its way to Tasmania.
Back at work today, I had a couple of coffee meetings and had to ask to scan-in at one of the venues. There was no sanitiser available and no masks being worn. I’m not going to name & shame but we need to be better at this (I’m pleased to say the 2nd venue I went to, a Chamber Member, was much much better at it.)
We’re well past 300 days since a community transmission event in Tasmania and we’re getting complacent. Sure our moat has helped; sure the government’s strong stance on border control has helped, but complacency around the basics of infection control and contact tracing may be our undoing. As oft-repeated, until we’re all out of danger, none of us are. So, bring on the vaccinations (if you’re over 50, have you booked yet?) and let’s remind ourselves to keep our distance, practise hand-sanitation, and always check in using the Tasmanian Government’s check-in app.