Daniel Andrews looked like he’d been hit between the eyes with a crowbar and the rest of us in Victoria knew what that was feeling like
The memories of that bad time last year, the restrictions on any form of normal life, the isolation inside the houses, the search for one of the four reasons to be outside, our world shrinks to a radius of three miles, that Income evaporates
It would be, the Prime Minister said, short and sweet Five tough days. But the truth is, there could be no guarantees
This time it’s the British variant that has escaped Victoria’s hotel quarantine system The virus is so contagious and spreading quickly that by the time one case was confirmed it has caught on and infected an unknown number of others
So here was Andrews’ bargain Let’s call it a threat. If the brief, sharp shock for five days isn’t enough, we could be locked up until the vaccinations are in full swing … and that would be months
Victorians who have previously undergone the fourth level of lockdown will no doubt again declare compliance and accept that there is no alternative if, in Andrew’s word, the recent outbreak is to be stifled
Victoria, who had suffered badly over the past year and whose death toll rose until all those fearful, claustrophobic days got the monster under control, witnessed a lengthy investigation into the failures of the quarantine system that started the virus
The investigation notoriously failed to pinpoint exactly who was responsible for the initial failure, but it made a long series of recommendations to ensure the system was tightened, the vast majority of which were accepted by the government
In particular, the government announced the creation of a special agency, COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) Its commissioner would report directly to the Minister of Police and Emergency Services, with health, enforcement and operations expertise embedded in the executive structure of the new body
Yet we are back again. This time the super-infectious British variant of the virus has escaped a quarantine hotel, and all of Victoria must once again make the sacrifices that were made before the quarantine system was improved
Can we be sure that the Victoria quarantine is really unmatched? Was a hotel used for quarantine functional?
We’re all now rushing home via the supermarket, preparing to lock away our expectations for five days in the hopes that that’s all it takes
But the questions will still be there when we show up. No wonder Daniel Andrews looked like he’d been hit between the eyes with a crowbar
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Tony Wright is Associate Editor and Special Writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
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