Monday, August 23, 2021

Covid - when everything is local

 I have written about the ways in which changing boundaries and administrative structures affect perceptions and rules in often perverse ways. These issues are much on my mind as I sit here in covid regulated Armidale. I could wish that we had our own New England state since this would have given us greater protection and control. We don't, so I want to focus on more localised issues. 

Let me start with a Sydney example before becoming totally parochial. As part of its local government restructuring, the Sydney Government merged two councils to form Bayside City Council. The southern council, Botany Bay, was separated by Sydney Airport and had nothing in common with the southern portions of Bayside.  Now all of Bayside is counted as a high risk area because of cases in the south that have little to do with the old Botany Bay Council area. 

To take a Northern example, when Armidale Regional Council was put into lockdown, Guyra was included in the lockdown while the much closer centre of Uralla was not because it was a different local government area. The changes based on LGA boundaries actually made no sense. 

 Becoming totally parochial. the everchanging rules applied to Armidale have become confusing and difficult. I am reasonably bright, but I struggle to understand them When I do understand them, I find that I object.

When the first lockdown rules were applied as the virus first spread so long ago, there was a gathering together. Many stores such as garden centres and craft stores remained open, People turned to home activities, to gardening, to house repairs, all things that could be done at home. Local businesses organised special deliveries. In a way, it now seems like a golde4n age. 

This time, things are different., 

Stores are shut. It is hard to acquire things whether it be craft, printers ink or furniture, My partner wanted to acquire some wool to knit a scarf. Last time we went into town to get the wool. This time we had to order two balls of wool. They came with a long delay plus a thirteen dollar delivery charge.I need to buy ink, but the normal places are shut. 

The rules state that only one person can go shopping.The shared shopping experiences are no longer possible even where people are living in the same household.  

The distance rules are confusing,  My partner has bought a new house.We need to do new things before we move in. I have checked. It's just within the five k limit from our current place. Can we go there together?  I think that we can. The house is vacant. We can treat it as exercise, but the police are stopping people and I don't know. 

There are no covid cases within hundreds of k of Armidale. Our risks lie in transmission from elsewhere. And yet we suffer,  


marcellous said...

"There are no covid cases within hundreds of k of Armidale."

Are you sure? gives 4 active case (by residence), though the number has been stable since 10/8.

Are those people (resident in Armidale) physically somewhere else?

Agree with what you say about LGAs.

Also agree about rules being hard to follow. There are at least two old chestnuts here, it seems to me.

One is that any rule generates paradoxes and anomalies at its fringe - eg, people living on opposite sides of the street in different LGAs, or your own example of Guyra vs Uralla.

Another is that a "one rule fits all" will capture too many people. But detailed rules or changes of rules trying to avoid this mean complicated rules which people cannot follow or keep up with.

When rules apply to ourselves it is always local.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi marcellous and thanks. I find that things are blurring in my mind, I am meant to be keeping logs that will allow me to identify and track events, but my performance here has become very inconsistent.

The now famous Newcastle beach party that was attended by a covid positive person from Sydney was also attended by an Armidale girl. She brought the virus to Armidale infecting her family. I note that she did not break any rules at the time. Those are, I think, the four cases you refer to.

Those infected followed the isolation rules. Three exposure sites were identified but then removed following contact tracing. The cases led to the Armidale LGA being placed in lockdown. By the end of the fortnight, no new cases had emerged despite mass testing, The lockdown was then extended for a fortnight in case there were incubating cases that had yet to appear. That lockdown was then subsumed by the broader regional NSW lockdown.

No further cases have emerged. In local terms, there was one infected Sydney resident who decided to go bush coming to Armidale by train, on to Tenterfield and then back to Armidale. He has been jailed and does not appear to have infected anyone. Outside Armidale, the nearest cases are in the Hunter with one case in Kempsey who was also infected in Newcastle but so far has not infected anyone else.

The exact lockdown rules have varied. In the first lockdown period, many stores remained open. You could still buy things. Later, with the state wide regional lockdown all rules tightened. Stores were shut, the confusing distance rules were introduced.

All that's for information. I think that your other points are well made.