We blew our chance to quickly put this down
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LOCKDOWNS AND OPENING UP
We blew our chance to quickly put this down
Lockdown? What lockdown? On my permitted daily walk, fully masked, I crossed over the Eastern Freeway. There seemed to be far too many cars on the freeway for a weekend when we are all supposed to be staying at home.
I walked past the Manningham Reserve, a soccer ground, where there was an unofficial but clearly organised soccer match in progress (wearing team colours) watched by a dozen people standing shoulder to shoulder, unmasked. The age of the players (young men) suggests the same demographic that we are told is problematic in Newport.
I walked past a couple who parked their car in an empty street, then walked back three houses and went in. High heels, handbag and surreptitious parking suggest a visit against health orders.
I unsuccessfully tried to report the soccer; the COVID police hotline had too long a delay – probably caused by many people trying to report similar breaches.
The most frustrating aspect of poor behaviour is that Victoria had a chance to put down this outbreak quickly, but so many selfish and thoughtless people are just prolonging the agony that is lockdown for the rest of us. It should have been two weeks, not two months.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
MPs undermining Andrews need to pipe down
If playgrounds are opened and lots of kids crowd in and use them, they are more likely to get COVID-19 and pass it on than if the playgrounds stay closed.
If the travel radius is increased from five kilometres to 10 kilometres, the area encompassed increases from 19.6 to 78.6 square kilometres. That equates to four times the number of people anyone might come into contact with and concomitantly four times the risk of transmission.
If the curfew is lifted, more people will go out at night and be exposed to infection.
Get the idea? The group of Andrews government MPs undermining their boss by advocating an easing of the rules should pipe down (“Andrews faces internal push on hard lockdown”, The Sunday Age, 29/8).
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
No passports without equity of access to vaccines
With all the talk about the Prime Minister’s plan to begin “safely” reopening when 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated, what is left out is how equitable the vaccination rollout is.
We’ve heard the stories about private schools managing to get their students vaccinated with Pfizer, and the slow rate of vaccinations among vulnerable populations like those with a disability or Indigenous populations. Not to mention the 12-to-15-year-olds who increasingly figure in those who can both contract and pass on COVID-19.
While vaccination passports to access major events or hospitality venues seem reasonable, they are not at all reasonable if there is no equity of access to the vaccines. Bringing about that equity and protecting the vulnerable must take priority.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye
Berejiklian has got this bit right
Gladys Berejiklian may well have misjudged Delta with the late, light lockdown, but her push to get the children back to school is to be applauded.
Mandating vaccination for teachers and a blitz to have all eligible students given the jab is now essential for the sake of their mental health and social and educational needs.
We need to do the same with childcare workers and find a way to open playgrounds as safely as possible, and as soon as possible, to cater for the wellbeing of our younger children, let alone the mental health of their struggling parents.
Ruja Varon, Malvern
They must be accountable
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg needs to explain exactly how releasing some information regarding the employers that have been the beneficiaries of the $13 billion paid by the government in the first three months of JobKeeper, and subsequently shown to have not met the scheme’s criteria, would prejudice their commercial interest and how this consideration outweighs a call for transparency that has overwhelming (65 per cent) voter support (“Voters back call for profiteers to repay JobKeeper”, The Age, 28/8).
When COVID-19 upended our lives, the federal government was rightly given credit for shielding large sectors of the population from financial ruin through JobKeeper. It was inevitable that a scheme hastily cobbled together would result in some money being misapplied, and while we accept this as a reasonable cost of rapid intervention, we also expect there to be accountability.
One wonders whose interests our Treasurer really represents.
Robin Bowra, Fitzroy North
An enlightened discussion
Ross Gittins is right to commend the Productivity Commission chair for promoting a more enlightened discussion about the level of public debt that is economically beneficial (“Investment in a better class of economic debate pays off”, Business, 28/8).
It is a pity such level-headed discussions about the optimal balance between public/private sector access to real resources got little attention during the “Bill we can’t afford” 2019 election campaign against Bill Shorten.
Will the current record levels of government debt incurred by the Coalition mean their next election campaign will be missing the standard debt hysteria component?
Bill King, Camberwell
On Domain Road, South Yarra, at the weekend, it almost seemed there wasn’t a pandemic going on.
Crowds lined the footpath in front of the Botanical Hotel and its neighbouring cafes. Teams of jolly people stood shoulder-to-shoulder in their puffy vests, laughing their mask-less laughs, while sipping take-away drinks in the sun.
As I observed this block party-cum-activewear gala, I wondered, would police allow such a
spectacle in one of Melbourne’s less-affluent suburbs?
Sam Bentley, South Yarra
A little understanding helps
I heartily agree that we need to show more compassion and understanding towards those who do not wear masks because they have a medical exemption (“Anger and aggression will not defeat the virus”, Letters, 27/8).
I have two Cochlear implants, and also have cerebral palsy, which affects my hand control. I have had a medical exemption since July 2020, stating that the ear tapes on masks can dislodge my implant processors – vital medical equipment enabling me to hear.
Just recently, someone berated me for not wearing a mask – though this person knows of my medical exemption. As the pandemic and lockdowns drag on, perhaps we’re becoming less patient with each other, venting our frustration by finding someone to “blame”.
Most of us are trying to do the right thing, including getting a medical exemption when we can’t wear a mask safely.
By being understanding towards each other, we can lessen the frustration we are feeling. Causing hurt to people who are, in fact, living within the rules (including having a lawful medical exemption where necessary) only increases the pain for us all.
Kaye Gooch, Prahran
Child COVID deaths rare
A letter (“Putting kids in danger”, 28/8) states that “children are at much greater risk from the Delta variant than they have been from previous variants”.
While the greater transmissibility of the Delta variant means there is more COVID-19 in all age groups, illness caused by this coronavirus remains asymptomatic or mild in the vast majority of children.
Parents should be reassured that hospitalisation and deaths from COVID-19 are still exceptionally rare in this age group.
Nigel Curtis, head of infectious diseases, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Life after lockdowns
The purpose of lockdowns is to protect the unvaccinated from COVID-19 and our hospital system from the morbidity of infections.
Australian governments have done a remarkable job with this since last year while we waited for safe vaccines to be developed, acquired and made available to our unvaccinated population.
However, at some point, probably later this year, all eligible people will have been given an opportunity to be vaccinated, and lockdowns will have to end.
At that point, we all know that the virus will continue its ruthless quest to infect the unvaccinated, which will be unpleasant but entirely a consequence of the decisions or the circumstances of the unvaccinated population.
I urge everyone to avoid this fate and get themselves vaccinated.
Andrew Rothfield, Northcote
A double infection
Walking down Main Street, Mornington on Saturday morning, I heard a passer-by saying, “I really like visiting Mornington”.
Then a vroom of high-end motorcycles, with middle-aged gents out for a Peninsula sunny Saturday, rolled by. And as we crossed the car park, a group of a dozen unmasked 20-somethings drifted sullenly away – because of the two cops behind us.
And so it goes on and on. Exceptionalism won’t get us out of this. It just spreads the double infection: me-ism and COVID-19.
David Baxter, Mornington
Open the op shops
Opportunity shops are a primary resource for disadvantaged families to procure clothing and basic homewares including sheets, towels, tableware and, most importantly for the young, books.
They’re vital to families and individuals who have a lighter footprint on the planet than middle-to-upper-income consumers, who buy and dispose of plastic and synthetic items made from petrochemicals faster than clicking a buy button.
Opportunity shops are also staffed by volunteers, many of whom are valued by the communities in which they operate, giving a renewed sense of purpose to many who would otherwise be disenfranchised.
Reopening these stores should be an imperative: for the sake of the poor and the planet.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza
We’ll get used to QR codes
In 1970, the Victorian government became the first in the world to introduce legislation for compulsory wearing of seatbelts. Many people were annoyed, objected, refused to wear them, pretended to wear them and so on. Today, we put them on without giving it any thought.
To those who object to QR codes or complain that they are a nuisance, I suggest they just get on with it – QR codes are going to be a part of our life for a long time, maybe forever. And the day will come when we register with a QR code without giving it a thought.
John Cummings, Anglesea
Realistic plan needed
So Daniel Andrews has announced that there is still a chance to drive COVID-19 cases down to zero.
At what cost? These extended lockdowns are having a devastating effect on all Victorians. The impacts vary from financial hardship to poor mental health.
Many Victorians now have very little faith that even if this current lockdown gets us to a zero position, we will be able to sustain this for any length of time. With more than 1000 cases daily in NSW, it will only be a matter of days or weeks before another outbreak occurs. And back into lockdown we go.
Victorians need hope and compassion – not a lecture on how we are “doing the wrong” thing and making the “wrong choices”. We need targets matched to the easing of restrictions.
We need encouragement to drive up vaccination rates. We need something realistic to strive for.
Lisa Anderson, Canterbury
Twin targets are confusing
The use of 70 per cent and 80 per cent vaccination targets is causing confusion. The purported benefits at each point are too vague and the threat of a lockdown in one’s residential area remains, even if the 80 per cent level is reached.
It would be better to have one target, even if it was 75 per cent, with detailed benefits/restrictions at that point for the fully vaccinated vis-a-vis the partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.
In particular, the states will need to resolve the border restriction applying to fully vaccinated and recently tested travellers. The risk of people defying the rules with the current wishy-washy program increases by the day.
Peter Barry, Melbourne
Who is she listening to?
As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian promises rewards and more freedom.
I wonder whether she has checked if the majority of her citizens actually want these things right now, or whether they would prefer to have case numbers driven down and fewer lives lost.
I wonder whether she is listening to a noisy minority over a potentially silent majority.
Claire Merry, Wantirna
AND ANOTHER THING
Taking his time
It wasn’t a race to get people vaccinated and it wasn’t a race to build proper quarantine facilities. Now it seems it also wasn’t a race to get people out of Afghanistan.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
Has Josh Frydenberg signed a non-disclosure agreement with corporate Australia?
David Mandara, Hepburn Springs
There should be a full list of those companies who used JobKeeper to up their profits … they really believed in the “keeper” part.
Marie Nash, Balwyn
When anybody promotes a group as “top priority to get the vaccine”, they should be obliged to say who will be hustled back to the end of the queue.
William Puls, Mentone
When hospitals become overloaded, will only the vaccinated be eligible for admission?
Harley Powell, Elsternwick
Victoria is so lucky to have daily, constructive advice from Michael O’Brien or Georgie Crozier, yet Daniel Andrews ignores it.
John Walsh, Watsonia
COVID-19 reminds us that we do not own nature, we are part of it.
David Champion, St Andrews Beach
The only thing transparent about the Morrison government is the Prime Minister himself. You can see straight through him and his attachment to power.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills
It will be a miracle if Anthony Albanese is our next Prime Minister.
Noel Howard, Heathmont
In the midst of the pandemic, Michael O’Brien remains Daniel Andrews’ greatest asset.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena
Is there still a need for a national anthem, or should each state and territory have its own anthem?
Eric Kopp, Flinders
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