When the Athlone Advertiser previously spoke with Athlone born Melbourne resident Morgan Fallon in July of last year, his adopted home was in the midst of a surge in Covid-19 case numbers resulting in the imposition of severe public health and safety restrictions.
Eight months on and Melbourne is no longer under Covid-19 restrictions protocol with the wearing of face coverings now solely required on public transport and within large gatherings.
Morgan is the son of the late Senator Sean and Anne Fallon and moved to Australia in 2006. A resident of Melbourne for 12 years, he is married to Anna and they have a daughter, Niamh.
“A pretty severe lockdown was imposed upon Melbourne for a number of months which is why the city is now in a positive place. These gains were hard won but, as we have seen before, they can be easily lost. Despite this there is still a sizeable minority who object to any restrictions, anti-vaxers and the like. I guess, human nature being what it is, this was inevitable after months of pandemic restrictions,” Morgan stated.
Despite being devoid of Covid-19 restrictions, the wearing of face coverings amongst the Melbourne public is now commonplace.
“Even though restrictions have relaxed most people still wear masks when out in public. You get conditioned into a certain way of thinking. I went to the shops a few days ago and forgot my mask. As it is not required, I didn’t bother going home for it. When I went into the shop, I was the only one without a mask and I felt like a criminal,” Morgan said.
Working at Victoria University, Morgan noted that all non-essential classes continue to be delivered to his students by virtual means.
“When the lockdown started all classes moved to online delivery, so we had to change everything to accommodate this. I don’t mind it too much, but I don’t think you get the same experience from online delivery. Teaching to a screen isn’t the same and I can only imagine it not being much fun for students either. There is some face-to-face teaching but most of the university hasn’t been open for months. All non-essential classes will continue online until the end of 2021.
“Even when we do return to face-to-face teaching, I reckon the new normal will include much more online delivery. Luckily, we converted part of our garage into a workspace some time ago. I don’t think I could work from my bedroom. That said, I am going a little stir crazy by myself, I miss sharing an office with people. Apart from the company you learn and gain so much from it. A simple query can be answered in seconds, rather than emailing someone and then waiting for a satisfactory reply.
“I really feel most sympathy for young people, a year of lockdown in your early twenties is a lot worse than a year in your fifties, sixties or seventies. I don’t know what the long-term effects will be,” Morgan added.
There has been no Covid-19 related deaths in Australia since Christmas with less than 1,000 persons in total succumbing to the virus.
“At the time of writing, there were 909 deaths in total nationally and none since Christmas. The majority have been in Melbourne and Victoria (820 ) with most of those occurring because of the hotel quarantine fiasco which led to an outbreak which detrimentally impacted upon aged care homes.
I know from talking to family and friends at home that Australia and New Zealand are held up as examples of countries who got the response right. I guess in relative terms this is true but from over here mostly what you hear about in the news is about the things that went wrong.
“The vaccine rollout is only starting here and there have been a lot of teething problems to do with the booking system and, consequently, delivery of the vaccine. That’s the big story here at the moment. Luckily, the need for the vaccine is not as urgent here so it’s not as big an issue as it might be elsewhere.
“The other big story concerns the Premier, Daniel Andrews, who slipped on wet stairs two weeks ago and broke his back. He’d given daily briefings during restrictions, took a lot of hard decisions like the snap lockdown for five days in February. Some people praise him for his handling and others pillory him. Like so many other politicians, how he responded in this crisis will probably be his legacy, I think history will look favourably on him. Thankfully, he’s doing well,” Morgan continued.
While aspiring for a return to Athlone in the near future, Morgan realises that such hope may not come to fruition allowing for the ongoing presence of Covid-19 and the numerous variants now arising.
“There is still no travel between states but we are being encouraged to holiday within your state. International travel is another matter. I would love to go home next summer but I don’t know how realistic that is. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, but no one knows how far away it is. I was watching a travel show a few months ago and they featured Sean’s Bar. I thought it would be nice to have a pint there some day soon. Maybe next year,” Morgan concluded.