A surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city may take weeks to subside despite the imposition of lockdown protocol.
Such a scenario is what awaits Athlone native, Morgan Fallon, at the present time, as the son of the late Senator Sean Fallon and his family, come to terms with a spike in virus numbers in recent times. Morgan moved to Australia in 2006 and has been residing in Melbourne for 12 years.
“In the main, my Australian experience has been positive and I am married to Anna, with a daughter, Niamh, but presently, not alone in Melbourne, but globally, we are living in unprecedented times,” Morgan remarked.
As a core member of the Melbourne Irish Festival committee deemed with responsibility of organising the city’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade, Morgan had been in the final preparations of hosting this year’s event when the impact of the present pandemic forced its cancellation.
“Having read an article advising against mass gatherings, I messaged my fellow committee members expressing my stance that the parade should not proceed and unanimously decided to cancel the event despite financial loss,” Morgan asserted.
Upon the cancellation of the St Patrick’s Day parade similar events which would normally garner mass gatherings were postponed giving credibility to the threat posed by COVID-19.
“Despite COVID-19 being the sole topic of discussion, many were unaware of the detrimental impact on society which was to occur.
“Commentators were talking about being in ‘lockdown’ for six months or more. Experts talked about a vaccine being at least a year away.
“Anxiety levels were high with the panic buying of household essentials. My wife works in an organic grocery store and for the first week or so it was an inhospitable place in which to be, but as health and safety guidelines were enforced, a sense of calm was restored to her workplace,” Morgan noted.
Working at Victoria University, Morgan noted the implementation of change in his daily work schedule.
“Towards the end of March it was announced that all classes would now be delivered online. We all had to learn how to use Webex, which didn’t really work and then Zoom, which everyone uses now. Class sessions plans and delivery had to be reworked to fit the new normal. I always tried to keep the classes as social, fun and interactive as possible which I think helped,” Morgan continued.
Morgan noted that the daily life experience was one of a highly repetitive nature, being very difficult to differentiate between work and home.
“To fool myself into ‘going to work’ I take a bicycle ride for maybe twenty minutes and return to ‘work’. Luckily, we live near open space parks and I try to go for a run there maybe three times a week.
“There is a smaller park nearby to where I brought Niamh every evening to play in the playground. When the lockdown started, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t go on the swing anymore as it had been sealed off by the Council. She wanted to know why she couldn’t go on the swing, so I had to inform her that ‘bold boys’ had broken it,” Morgan said.
The “tyranny of distance” is one, according to Morgan, of vast concern to the Irish residents in Melbourne.
Australia is about as far as you can go from home, go any further and your coming back and now home seems very far away and therein lies the worry, what if something happened to someone at home?,” Morgan queried.
A stimulus package, ($253 billion ), the largest in Australian history, was announced by the Government, prior to the second impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
“Restrictions were lifted at the start of June, with many starting to get overconfident, restless and in a lot of cases, careless. It seemed almost inevitable that there would be another wave. From being the success story of Australia, Victoria is now the pariah with new restrictions and travel bans in place.
“We live two suburbs from one of the recently confirmed COVID-19 ‘hotspot’ suburbs and have good friends there. Their house looks onto Summerhill road (yes there is a Summerhill road in Melbourne ), they are in lockdown and the houses on the other side of the road are not as they are in a different suburb.
“Hopefully, these measures will help ‘flatten the curve’. While things could be a lot worse, they certainly could be a lot better too. Nobody can really say when things will get back to ‘normal’, a year, maybe two? I don’t know but I guess I won’t be going home anytime too soon,” Morgan concluded.