from Anne in Adelaide, Australia: a brief interlude

June 2. This week our society in South Australia opened up a little further. It’s quite exciting.

Here is the breakdown of our ‘stage 2’ rules:

Intrastate travel restrictions were eased on May 8.

  • Larger venues allowed up to 80 patrons, so long as social distancing is followed
  • Smaller venues allowed up to 20 indoors
  • Alcohol can be served to seated patrons without a meal
  • Funerals increased to a maximum of 50
  • Cinemas, beauty salons and gyms reopen for up to 20 people, however gym classes are restriction to 10
  • Driving lessons allowed to return
  • Contact sport, including indoor, to resume on June 25’

https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/sas-pubs-reopen-as-stage-two-of-easing-restrictions-begins-c-1070886

Suddenly, the shops are open and the lights are on in the pubs and restaurants. This evening, my husband and I met another couple for dinner. It was quite special although the ambience was not quite there as we were the only guests in a large room with 3 other distant tables. Our waitress was excited as well and we received a lot of attention.

The retail shops are busier and the traffic is stacked up at school pick-up zones once more.

However, the other news brings this week into perspective. Flights from Singapore airlines will be arriving into Adelaide next week. I assume this is to bring back overseas students to our financially strapped universities. Others will come to join their families. I doubt there will be many tourists on these flights.

Sure as anything, these full flights will bring in the virus. All the discussion in the press seems to indicate that it is hard to put in place systems to prevent the spread of this virulent virus inside an aeroplane. So, I fear, once flights start arriving, we must retreat back to the safety of our homes and get back onto the delivery services once more.

But for a little while, we can relax.

from Anne in Adelaide, Australia: time to have another drink … or three

May 23. In South Australia we are opening up: restaurants and pubs are once more open for business – but only for seated customers and with a limit of 10 people inside and 10 outside. What these businesses appear to be doing is limiting your stay to an hour so they can serve more customers. At first our state government said restaurants could open – but not serve alcohol. There was a backlash and mockery about this ‘no alcohol’ idea so it was quickly scrapped. NO ALCOHOL – how ridiculous to suggest this!

Australians love their alcohol and the authorities apparently felt that patrons might ‘forget’ about social distancing. One is aware that these venues need to be viable and the profit made on alcoholic drinks is significant compared to a cuppachino.

As the shutdown got underway 2 months ago, the jokes about alcohol proliferated across social media. Basically, the theme was: we are all drinking more than normal and that’s OK because life is tough and we NEED our alcohol to survive.

No question a glass or two of Barossa Shiraz is a pleasure with a good home cooked meal. It’s a question of excess and the behaviour that goes with it.

In South Africa they closed the bottle shops – not deemed the source of ‘essential’ purchases during the shutdown. Some bottle shops were attacked and looted by mobs. Online purchases went ahead. I think the ban was in part an attempt to reduce domestic violence. All violence. Car accidents, stabbings and shootings declined. Trauma cases presented at hospital declined by two thirds.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-26/prohibition-stokes-anxiety-for-boozers-bottlers-in-south-africa

‘It’s not all been bad. One of the benefits of the alcohol ban has been that the reduction in drinking probably led to a quarter, or 9,000, fewer trauma cases in hospital wards every week, according to Charles Parry, a researcher at the South Africa Medical Research Council.’

Think of that! 9,000 fewer trauma cases in South African hospitals!

Coming back to South Australia, what has been startling on the local evening news is the number of horrific road accidents involving drivers who are found to be way over the regulation .05 blood alcohol level. One woman was 7 times over the limit and had 2 young children in the back of her vehicle. I am surprised she could even crawl to her car. And all this is at a time when there are far fewer cars on the road.

Our police have not been road testing for alcohol or drugs due to the fear of covid-19 transmission. Our absolute number of road deaths is relatively low, but so many of the dead and injured are younger people. It’s not so much us retired people, locked down at home, who are out driving under the influence.

From our government fact sheet on ALCOHOL AND DRUGS IN ROAD CRASHES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. June 2019.  ‘Overall, 36% of drivers and motorcycles riders killed test positive to either drugs or alcohol or a combination of both for the 5 year period 2014-2018. This means over a third of vehicle operators killed each year are driving with an illegal BAC and/or drugs in their system.’

Alcohol is such a strong theme for Australians when they want to express that they are having fun. It’s often portrayed as a ‘blockey’ thing – those beers (‘stubbies’ or ‘frosties) at the ‘barbie’ on Saturday ‘arvo’. Mateship stems from such times.

I was thinking of this theme of our indulgence in alcohol when we collected the papers this morning. The local Advertiser is a typical tabloid with catchy headlines and little worth reading. It did not disappoint!

The Advertiser, South Australia. May 23, 2020