Living under COVID restrictions

"Back in my day, we were all stuck under house arrest for a few months, because of this strange virus that gripped the world, shut down borders, sent people crazy stockpiling enough toilet paper to last a year, sent the economy spiraling, forced workplaces to adopt working from home and became the reason why we no longer shake hands."

That is probably what I will tell my children (if I ever have any children) in the future, as I reflect on 2020 and the year that has been.

Melbourne, where I live, is drawing closer towards the end of its sixth week of stage 4 restrictions. Under stage 4 restrictions, the key restrictions are:

  • Four reasons to leave home: work, study, exercise, shopping
  • Curfew from 8pm to 5am
  • No more than 1 hour of exercise, and 1 hour shopping
  • Exercise and shopping must take place within 5 km of your home

These restrictions apparently aren't the worst that the world has seen. And whilst it has changed my day to day routine, it's not unreasonably bad.

Here's what a standard workday looks like for me now:

  • Wake up and get ready for work
  • Take my 10 second "commute" from my kitchen to my desk
  • Logon and work at my desk in my bedroom
  • Finish work
  • Go outside for my 1 hour of exercise (usually a walk to my local park, which is 1 km away from my house)
  • Eat dinner
  • Rest
  • Video call with my girlfriend
  • Sleep
  • Rinse and repeat

In many ways, it's not all that different to the pre-COVID era - in fact, I now save 80 minutes a day not commuting, $33 a week on myki fares (not to mention, I can't remember the last time I had to put fuel in my car) and I don't eat out as much.

The type of work I do now has also changed. My work involves much more client engagement, it's much more independent, and it makes a meaningful impact in the current COVID-19 climate. I definitely have had to make some difficult calls and difficult decisions, but at the end of the day, my job is to make decisions that are consistent with the law and the policy.

However, I am definitely starting to miss the little things. Like:

  • Being able to go on a random road trip, beyond the 5 km
  • Being able to buy lunch or dinner and eat it in a restaurant
  • Being able to meet with friends
  • Staying out late
  • Even just being able to work in the same room with other humans, being able to bounce ideas off each other etc. (even if I am often the one getting distracted, because people are bouncing ideas off me and asking for my two cents).

The first thing I will be doing once lockdown ends is getting a nice bowl of Japanese ramen from one of my favourite establishments in the city. And hopefully going on a nice trip to the beach.

Somewhere along the Great Ocean Road, December 2019.

In the meantime, lockdown and the travel restrictions have definitely made me appreciate my small local park a lot more too.

My local park, earlier today.