Happy holidays

It’s Christmas eve. S is in the thick of making tonight’s dinner and preps for tomorrow’s Christmas lunch. I’ve got nothing to do but “sit and look pretty” (his words, not mine). So here I am.

I was initially going to write something very different. I was going to gush about how I was finally comfortable enough to hang out with people in larger groups. About how the past few months brought a spate of get-togethers with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen since in person since the start of the pandemic.

It all changed last week. It started with a trickle of community transmission cases. Wary of an infection explosion during the silly season, everyone acted fast. Some restrictions were reinstated (luckily, the area I’m in didn’t get the brunt of it). Other states started closing their borders to NSW.

On a personal level… my employer postponed our Christmas party the night before it was meant to happen. We were supposed to go on a cruise. But it was too risky to have everyone come into the city, given that a big chunk of us travelled on public transportation (me included). Oh well, it was meant to rain anyway. Instead of working in the office, which they’d been trying to encourage, we were advised to work from home again.

Maximum visitors to each household were capped at 10. Fortunately, the decision came into effect the day after a colleague’s BBQ (where there were a lot more of us than that). Also fortunately, it doesn’t affect our Christmas or Boxing Day plans, where there will be less visitors than that.

I’m still shocked at how quickly things have changed. I’ve gotten somewhat complacent the past few months, admittedly, with such low numbers, and things seemingly getting back to normal. Obviously, I’m saddened that we can’t be out and about as much as we intended until things get back under control.

But still, I know I – we – are extremely lucky. I took a COVID test the Friday after the government announced the spike in cases. The same day we were meant to have our Christmas party. Although I had to queue for 30 minutes until I got to to the drive through testing centre, I knew I couldn’t complain. The testing centre had put up three, instead of just the one, testing areas. Their staff were out in the rain, handing out forms and pens, directing traffic, taking swabs. (I later read that the queues for other locations took 3-4 hours.)

I got my results in 6 hours.

(Negative, fortunately.)

There is something heartwarming about seeing how our state has rallied together. There have been 222k tests this week compared to 60k tests the week before. And how awesome is it that they do genomic testing to link infections to known clusters, and sewage testing to see where the virus might be hiding? I’m also amazed at the state’s contact tracers – there’s a continuously updating, detailed list of venues, down to the dates and times that a known case had visited and specific public transportation routes, sometimes down to the train carriage.

I know I personally have been relatively unaffected, and that there are many, many people who have been negatively impacted by this sudden spike. But at the end of the day, with people rallying together to keep the number of infections low, I’m hopeful that things will get better soon. And it makes me hopeful that, despite this crazy year we’ve all gone through, we will pull together.

So wherever you are, to my friend reading this, I hope you stay safe and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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