COVID-19 DIARY – THE BOOK OF LOVE

20210214_191802

February 14

The wedding of my best friend to his bride was a wonderful affair.

I barely spoke to him on the day.

But I saw him smile. I saw people cry.

I met a lot of new people who lived and worked in Canberra and were in the life of the bride and groom in a way that I just am not.

They were amazing people to spend time with and get to know. I kind of fell in love with them and felt like I knew the bride and groom just a little better because of them. Just one more reflection of what I have always known that they are good people – the best people – my people.

The wedding took place at the Fucntion Centre at the Taronga Zoo, there were not many people there but quite a lot for COVID, we ate a high tea and the food was really nice. It was a lovely day and a lovely wedding following a lot of anxiety and holding their nerve to get to the day.

I can only imagine what it felt like to have the day occur after everything that preceded it.

On my wedding day a million years before COVID, I had unexpectedly shed a tear the second I went to sign the registry. I think somewhere deep inside I thought, “It’s done.” or maybe I was just so moved by Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone being played.

There are three of us in this Band of Brothers.

We went to Scouts together as kids.

In our twenties we spent often a late night out, not partying or in the clubs but in lounge rooms watching old movies or in video game cafes and cinemas. Unpacking the mysteries of the universe the way young people do.

It moved very slowly, very organically but we all ended up working jobs, getting married and one of us is now a father.

Would you believe me if I told you that they’re still my best friends even if I barely see them now.

One afternooon not so long ago we were driving somewhere and I told one of them, “I sure do like being your friend.”

He answered, “Me too.”

Nothing else needed to be said.

So all three of us were in Sydney on Valentines Day and one of us got married to the love of his life, the best person in the world for him and the other two were there to celebrate that.

I’m fond of the expression the ties that bind.

I am not in their lives the same way anymore but somewhere in those nights in our 20s we became bound together and I still feel and honour that link.

Whenever I have needed them, they were there and whenever I am needed I will be there.

They’re my friends.

The best.

And I feel very grateful and pleased that now all three of us have met and married our best friends.

Now we turn away from the wedding and people who shall retain their privacy.

Karen and I headed out into the night to get dinner in Sydney Harbour on Valentines Day without a booking.

Well we hadn’t been told what the plan was after the wedding.

Despite driving my car to Sydney I had no interest in driving around Sydney.

We caught a cab to Taronga Zoo and now we caught a cab to Circular Quay.

Unlike the cabbie earlier who couldn’t find the lobby of our hotel, this guy knew his stuff and made sure we saw the city right as we headed to our destination.

In 2008 I had stayed a week with the groom in Sydney not far from Circular Quay.

It was an amazing week and Sydney had been such an amazing place back then but Circular Quay was not quite how I remembered it.

We went and got our obilgatory shots outside the Sydney Opera House that was cordoned off with security guards.

I decided we would head to Darling Harbour even though that is where we ate three years earlier.

We still didn’t get to Star Casino this time either, my Dad took me there to have a great meal in 2003.

I headed back up to the jettys wondering what the hell I was going to do.

I saw people boarding a boat and trampled down the jetty and introduced myself to the Captain.

I told him I didn’t know how this worked but I was wondering how I could get to Darling Harbour.

He informed me that he was a privately chartered boat but pointed me to a sign and said I could use the number on it to order a water taxi.

I was about to thank him when a head popped out from behind him and asked where was I headed?

I told him Darling Harbour.

“That’s where we’re headed. Hop on!” he told me in what I think was a Lebanese accent.

I looked at Karen and we hopped on that boat.

The man didn’t want any money.

And that is how we came to sail out over Sydney Harbour at sunset for free.

In a handful of minutes we were in Darling Harbour, all our problems solved and a memory to last a lifetime thanks to the random generosity and kindness of a stranger.

Don’t give up on the human race just yet.

I say this as a proud Queenslander, you have to give it to them.

There is something special about Sydney Harbour.

When we arrived in Darling Harbour our fellow passengers jumped off and were gone. The guy who offerred us to hop on board said to this friends he’d already paid for the trip.

We thanked him but they were off.

Karen and I now had to figrue out where we were going to eat. I’m not going to lie, we went into a few places after checking out the menu only to find they were booked out.

Then we reached the Cyren who were churning through couples having dinners. They told us, if we were happy to wait, they would give us a table as soon as one was available. We weren’t the only ones and sure enough minutes later we were ordering a seafood basket and a Greek salad.

I had a dinner in Darling Harbour on Valentine Days with my wife.

Afterwards we caught a cab back to the hotel.

It had been a big day and the drive home awaited us tomorrow.

We did look out over that harbour again though.

We were here and it was so beautiful.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROAD TRIP TO SYDNEY

February 13

On Saturday Karen and I set off to drive to Sydney to attend a wedding.

Longtime readers may recall my first real holiday in six years in 2017 was a long weekend drive to Newcastle and back.

We went to Fort Scratchley the only Australian military fort that ever fired its guns in anger.

We also ducked in to Sydney and ate at Darling Harbour.

The drive to Newcastle on Saturday and the drive back to Brisbane from Newcastle was the furtherest I had ever driven in a day.

Now I planned to drive further to Sydney in one day.

I had taken the Friday and Tuesday to give me a buffer of a day to prepare and recover in between the trip and being at work.

We didn’t get away early on Saturday morning but off we we went witht the odometer reading 211,771 kilometres.

I haven’t travelled very much but this would mark the third time I was driving down the east coast of New South Wales.

In 2012 I drove to Port Macquaire to meet coincidentally the bride newly dating the groom for this wedding. A lot of the highway was being worked on at the time and constantly the speed limit was set at 80kms per hour.

In 2017 it was a lot smoother going to Newcastle.

In 2021 there was no question where the first stop would be and sure enough we stopped at Ballina.

In 2017 we parked at the Bunnings car park and made our way across a road with no traffic lights and heavy traffic to grab something to eat from a bakery/cafe. This time we parked in their car park and didn’t have to cross the road.

It was a perfect beautiful temperate sunny day in the morning at Ballina.

We went into the Wicked Delights Bakery, I spotted a bread role and asked what was on it and they mentioned salami and some condiments. It was soooooooooooooo good. I think I had a jam and cream doughnut too or something.

After we had finished eating I waited a while the person there served someone else and told her this was the place to always stop going down the coast.

I had waited to be able to thank her.

Anybody who goes on road trips knows the joy of eating at such places and how their reputations tend to travel.

Last time in 2017, we stopped for KFC at Coffs Harbour but I didn’t want to hit all the same places again on our second trip.

Except for the Wicked Delights Bakery in Ballina!

We filled up for fuel in in Coffs.

Then ended up on some turn off road around Taree for a bathroom break.

I was keen to drive on and reach our destination as soon as possible. It was getting late.

The weather changed on us.

We drove through rain.

Sometimes cars passed us, sometimes I tore up the passing lane myself on those wet wet roads with the rain so thick that visibility was poor.

It was getting dark but still light as we drove along road cut into mountains around Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The indidcation we were about to reach Sydney.

Karen activated google maps as we entered Sydney traffic. One of the wipers had reached the end of its usefulness. It was the one on the driver side. It was still raining and visibility was now at an all time low as I made my way to the hotel but made it we did.

The odometer read 212,654 kilometres.

The most kilometres I had driven in a day – 883.

I had been sucked in by the photos on the website, I’d checked other things but I saw that window looking over Sydney Harbour, looked at the price, looked at the room and thought yeah that will do.

It turned out View Hotels – Harbourview was an interesting mix of the sublime and pecuilar.

The rooms were nice even though full length window in the bathroom that would facilitate some kinky acts if you didn’t pull down the draw sheet.

The carpark was underground and looked suitable for shooting a horror film.

On the other hand after we checked in, we went down to the restraurant in the lobby as we fast approached 9pm and were given a table last minute by the excellent staff. Our meals were delicious, I’m not a big pork belly guy but I loved the one I ate there.

I had checked in with the groom and a third great friend who were staying elsewhere in Sydney.

I looked out over the Harbour.

Tomorrow my friend would get married to the woman he loved and Karen and I would be there.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THAT RAGGED OLD FLAG

February 11

At the same time I counted down the days until my trip to Sydney to attend a friends wedding, the second impeachment trial of Ballbag got under way.

I don’t know what to tell you that hasn’t already been said.

Ballbag was unique to me in the way he would talk, the actions he would take, the incompetence and laziness he displayed. The hypocrisy. The arrogance. The complete disregard for human life.

As a swing vote who believes that we are all nuanced in our ideologies and no politician is worth are unquestionable loyalty. That consensus is how we build good works.

Ballbag infuriated me in a way that I cannot deny.

And yet his supporters keep the faith and despite his unprecedented shames he holds the base of the Republican party.

So its’ worth remembering some of the information that came to light in the impeachment about the attack on the Capitol.

How well organised the rioters were, how terrifying it must have been for the police and staffers that were there on the day.

Republicans too were literally were under siege that day, some of them feared for their life and days later they have said, “The country needs to move on.”

Well no one is moving on to a better place while shit like this is acceptable in America.

Fortunatley there are Republicans like Congressman Adam Kinzinger who stand in stark contrast to so many of their cowardly peers like Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz.

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s show Planet America there was Trump’s former impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitza made a compelling arguement legally for why the Impeachment should not succeed.

I will always feel that it shouldn’t have come to this.

That the Republican party should have demanded his resignation. That his Cabinet led by Vice President Mike Pence shoudl have forced it. That it wouldn’t have even required courage on their part because the American people would have demanded it from them.

As always I felt the great comedian Dave Chappelle had an uncanny knack for summing up the current situatuion.

In the wake of the Democrats winning the Senate with two election wins in Georgia state authorites changed the law.

On the 25th of March Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a restriction on voting rights.

There was a new ID requriement for those voting by mail mail and tighter deadlines for mail ballots. It restricted mail ballot drop boxes and allowed the sate to takeover over election administration from county election board if it deemed it necessary. The Presidential election showed certain pockets of a state will go one way over another and tip the balance. 

This followed the defunding of the postal service the previous year in the lead up to the election during a pandemic across the country and stock standard tactics like having less amount of voting centres in certain areas.

Stop the steal indeed.

Fifty five years after President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act the struggle continues.

I don’t pretend to have the answers but making it so that every American votes in every election might be a good place to start.

As for the impeachement, I didn’t hold my breath and when I heard the news I was sadly not surprised.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ON TENTERHOOKS

February 07

On Sunday the 7th of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 105,505,344 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 467,316.

Worldwide there had been 2,310,121 deaths with a daily increase of 12,416.

In Australia there had been 28,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 797,756 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,022. There had been 20,609 deaths with a daily increase of 96.

In the United Kingdom there had been 3,929,839 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,262. There had been 112,092 deaths with a daily increase of 828.

In India there had been 10,826,363 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,059. There had been 154,996 deaths with a daily increase of 78.

In the United States of America there had been 26,547,977 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 129,961. There had been 455,735 deaths with a daily increase of 3,549.

Thai Households Struggle With Record Debt, COVID-19 Increases Burden |  Investing News | US News

February 08

I was back in the office the following week on tenderhooks beginning a weekly countdown.

My best friend, a Canberra resident, was getting married in Sydney on Sunday.

I had taken leave, reserved a hotel room with no cancellation fees, gotten a crack in my windscreen repaired and bought a wedding present.

Yet if the Queensland border shut with Sydney again I would not go. The 14 day quarantine required in a hotel at your own expense upon returning to the Sunshine state was something I would not do.

So after months of believing in a strong border posture by state governments I now was at the mercy of such decisions.

That was fair enough, I still believed what they were doing was right.

On Monday Queensland remained closed to certain areas of WA that had been invovled in the recent lockdown there.

For anyone who had been in New South Wales since the 2nd of February the Queensland Health advice was,

“If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February please check the list of venues attended by the latest case and follow the health advice.

If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February and are currently in Queensland please monitor your health, get tested if you have any symptoms then isolate until you receive a result.

There is no decision at this time to close the border. We are monitoring this situation closely and awaiting more information from New South Wales health authorities.

I had called the previous week to get a border pass and told that one was not necessary and to monitor the government website for updates.

In Wollongong a returned overseas traveller from South America tested positive for COVID leading to locals to get out and get tested.

The individual had completed 14 days in hotel quarantine. A week ago it was decided by NSW Health for people to test on Day 16 after they have left hotel quarantine.

In Melbourne, Victoria another hotel quarantine worker tested positive. This time the individual had tested negative following their last shfit on Thursday. They had returned to work on Sunday and tested postiive.

This followed another hotel quarantine worker having tested positive in Melbourne last week at the Grand Hyatt.

The Grand Hyatt was one of three hotels quarantining Australian Open players and staff. Five hundred people were classed as casual contacts, tested and told to isolate until returning a negative.

A hotel quarantine worker at the Grand Hyatt had finished his shift 29JAN2021, tested negative. Then later developed symptoms and tested positve while having been out in the community. The young man is also a volunteer firefighter with the CFA.

It prompted new restrictions from Premier Daniel Andrews on the 3rd of February including masks being mandatory again and private gatherings were limited to 15 people.

Following these latest cases, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was full of praise for the quick actions taken by the state governments.

The case in Woolongong gave me concern about the upcoming wedding in Sydney but we would just see how things transpired.

February 11

Thursday was the last day I was at work before getting ready for the trip. The border between Queensland and New South Wales remained open.

I was fairly confident that if there was no change by Friday that I would be going.

It seemed that even if there was a dramatic change or a new community transmission in New South Wales changes to the border was unlikely to take effect before I returned home on Monday.

There were now eleven cases linked to a Holiday Inn outbreak from hotel quarantine in Melbourne which would have no bearing on a possible trip to New South Wales but was of course of concern in the wider picture of people’s health and safety.

February 12

Following the recent outbreaks in Melbourne Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five day lockdown for Victoria.

His state had endured a 111 day lockdown last year, he didn’t want to risk that again.

There might be more cases than we know about — if we wait for that to be proven correct, it will be too late. Then we will face the prospect of being locked down until a vaccination is rolled out … to a very large number of Victorians, a significant percentage of the Victorian community. That’s months. That’s not days or weeks, that’s months,” Premier Andrews said.

With that the Premier put the state into Stage 4 lockdown. You could only leave your home for caregiving, essential work, shopping or medical reasons. You could exercise for two hours per day with another person from your household.

One hour at a time': Daniel Andrews tight-lipped on a lockdown extension in  Victoria

Victorians are well acquainted with this. We’ve done this before,” Mr Andrews said.

I am confident that this short, sharp circuit-breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this,” he said.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton shared similar concerns about the UK variant of the virus.

It became the predominant strain in England, now the predominant strain in the UK, and [is] fast becoming the predominant strain across Europe and potentially globally. That’s because it is significantly more infectious than any other virus that we’ve seen previously. Nobody wants all the consequences of a circuit-breaker, but the alternative is potentially devastating. I do not want to be here either, come Wednesday, not having done this and talking about 10, 15, 20, 30 new cases a day, including mystery cases, or including cases that we can’t chase down,” Professor Sutton said.

The Victorian Premier advsied that the Australian Open tennis tournament was going ahead just not with crowds.

Victoria was heading for lockdown and quickly the Queensland Government advised people returning from Melbourne from 1am the next day would require to hotel quaraninte for 14 days.

I was heading for my first interstate trip in three years.

If it wasn’t my friend I wouldn’t have taken this trip but he’s that kind of friend.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF QUEENSLAND MARITIME MUSEUM AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

Weekend Notes 21

February 06

Karen and I set out on a very warm summer’s Saturday to the Queensland Maritime Museum (QMM).

The QMM was set up in 1971 at an old dry dock.

I remember going to it around the time of Expo ’88 as a kid. The showpiece of the museum was an old anti-submarine warfare frigate named HMAS Diamantina. You can imagine how exciting it was for an eight year old to walk across the planks, the bottom of the dry dock metres below. Climb down step ladders and walk along railings in the guts of an actual naval warship.

HMAS Diamantina had not long been retired at that point having served decades before coming the martime musem in the early 1980s.

Years later as a young university student studying a journalist subject across the river at QUT I went across and looked for someone to interview.

I found a volunteer who had served in World War II with Z Special Force and had previously been a coal stoker on corvettes in the navy.

He had lied about his age to join, he had also been working in a munitions factory before his service.

He was in his early 80s then, having spent his life working many jobs and beating cancer, with the sprightly energy of a toddler he danced on his feet.

His life and stories were fascinating but he never talked about the combat he may have seen.

If I can find the old assignment I will post it here with his name. For now of him I took back in 2003.

QMM Volunteer

There was another R.A.N. veteran who volunteered at QMM at that time who had served in the Korean War. He told me of a stop over at Okinawa during their voyage north. He told me how the trees had still not grown to a proper height years after the battles on that island.

These were the kind of people who kept the Queensland Maritime Museum running and still do.

In 1974 Brisbane was flooded and so was the museum situated on the banks of our river.

In 2011 Brisbane was flooded again, volunteers came down and repositioned the ropes to ensure that is the water in the dry dock rose HMAS Diamantina was not damaged by crashing into its own dock.

Expo ’88 came and went replaced by Southbank. The city and the area changed but HMAS Diamantina and its museum remained.

After 16 year old Jessica Watson sailed around the globe, her 10 metre long ship became part of the collection at QMM.

Floods, recessions and the Global FInancial Crisis all came and went but when COVID hit all of sudden the huge workforce of volunteer of over 60s could not do their work and attendance was also affected.

The financial situation of the museum radically changed and quickly.

They closed their doors.

But they were not out for the count yet.

A petition was raised to secure the future of the museum which you can click on here and put your name to Petition · Secure the future of Queensland Maritime Museum · Change.org

You could also donate money to helping them keep open which I did and when they opened their doors in late January I went to buy tickets but they were sold out.

So um I bought them the following weekend and we went.

The museum was a little different then I remembered with some new interesting stuff and slightly younger volunteers. We could walk the deck but to COVID restrictions we could not go below decks on HMAS Diamantina. I also got to see Ella’s Pink Lady up close.

I wrote a review of it which you can read here at Weekend Notes Queensland Maritime Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

I took a lot of photos and put a lot of thought of where they were placed in the narrative of the review. The review was featured on the Facebook site of the Queensland Maritime Museum.

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

I wish the Queensland Maritime Museum all the best, it is a wonderful Museum that should be ensured for generations to enjoy.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WA HIT THE SACK CUT LOOSE AND YEAH THEY’RE BACK

Four Points by Sheraton Perth Parking | City of Perth Parking

February 05

When we came out of the three day lockdown in the wider Brisbane area on the 11th of January, 2021 it started a 10 day period of having to wear a mask until 1am Friday 22JAN2021. At work or outside where you couldn’t socially distance. In ride shares, public transport, shopping centres, churches, hospitals and cinemas. Basically if it was public and indoors you had to wear it.

On the 21st of January as I walked around Toowong Village, every proprietor and customer had a mask on.

The next day on the 22nd, I was still wearing a mask and I was not alone but plenty of people were not.

I still did though.

Over the next couple of weeks I worked from home and seldom went anywhere.

On Friday the 5th of February I wore my mask walking from my car to the office. Took it off at my desk. Put it back on as I left to get my morning coffee. When I got to Toowong village just two weeks after the mask mandate had ended and we had been told to keep one on our person at all times.

There was no one but me wearing a mask.

It is weird wearing a mask when no one else it.

Why should I care if others aren’t doing it?

But at some point throughout the day my mask went in my pocket and didn’t come back out again.

On the 5th of February there five known active cases in Queensland.

Mark McGowan talking during a media conference with a woman beside him performing sign language.

In Western Australia after reporting no new cases in the community that day, the lockdown in Perth, Peel and the South West region would end as scheduled at 6pm.

Travel in and out of Perth and Peel would remain restricted allowed for reasons such as work or compassionate grounds.

This and other restrictions would remain in place until Sunday February 14.

You could have a gathering of 20 people in your home, hospitality, retail, fitness venues and weddings were capped at 150 people.

A 20-person gathering limit will apply in homes, while hospitality, entertainment, retail and fitness venues and weddings will have their capacity capped at 150 people until February 14.

Nightclubs and casinos were still shut and bars only had seating service.

School would resume Monday.

Masks remained mandatory too

Confused about the face mask rules for Perth and Peel? This is what you  need to know - ABC News

Masks will remain mandatory, both indoors and outdoors and on public transport. However, you will no longer be required to wear a mask during vigorous outdoor exercise. I know it might be annoying, I’ve taken a while to get used to it myself but it’s an extra precaution that gives us the confidence to open back up,” the Premier said.

Health Minister Roger Cook had some advice about the way people interpreted the rules of mask wearing.

A round of golf is not rigorous exercise, but a run around the block is, riding your bike is vigorous, a stroll through the park is not. If you’re actively eating or drinking, it’s difficult to have your mask on for a period of time, just make an effort to continue to be cautious over the coming week,” Cook said

There elements of the community and the media cough Sky News dickheads cough who had been critical of the WA’s snap lockdown following one case of the UK strain in the community.

Was it an overreaction? I don’t think so because let’s imagine had we not done this and we had cases out there incubating in the community and people moving around and spreading it, and then next week we suddenly had a big eruptions of cases around Perth. Then everyone would rightfully be saying ‘why didn’t you take action earlier?‘” said McGowan.

There had been no new cases reported, 189 of the 191 close contacts of the guard had now tested negative. Two tests were pending.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook addresses media outside parliament.

McGowan’s Health Minister Roger Cook backed up his leader.

We think it was appropriate given that we were dealing with an individual who had been infectious in the community for a few days. We know from the contact tracing he’d had contact with a lot of people and had been to many venues and we knew he’d been infected with the UK strain of the disease. So we really thought that it was important that we move swiftly and decisively,” Cook said.

West Australians have what it takes to really respond in a way which crushes the virus, so we’ve asked the people of Western Australia to just persevere for another [eight] days. We know that it’s an inconvenience, but we think it’s an important precaution.

Similar to the Queenland lockdown earlier in January, Western Australia was following a similar model of a snap lockdown to lower potential in the community while contract tracing was carriod out.

Followed by some restrictions and mandatory mask wearing for the following fornight approximately which covered an incubation period.

There were plenty of examples thorughout the world that showed incubation could offer beyond the two weeks and that restrictions in place could not stop spread but from a numbers game the health authorities in these states had decided it was an effective way to manage the risk and the results had been good.

Nonetheless Cook did point out that risk was still there particularly during this fortnight and that the state remained in the danger zone.

Archer Danger Zone GIF | Gfycat

If any of the close contacts of case 903 become COVID positive, that wouldn’t be so much of a problem because they’re already isolating and we’re testing them vigorously over the course of this and next week. But if we saw a mystery case come out, someone that wasn’t captured under the contact tracing process, hadn’t been tested this week, well that would be cause for concern,” Mr Cook said.

Mr McGowan said 189 of the 191 close contacts of the security guard had now tested negative.

Test results for the other two are still pending.

Premier Mark McGowan seemed happy saying, “Our contact tracing system has worked effectively and our surge capacity in our testing has worked magnificently well.

Those wanting to travel out of and into those regions can only do so for essential reasons, such as work or on compassionate grounds, and they would have to wear a a mask and apply for a G2G pass.

McGowan was unapologetic about the the unpredictable nature of lockdowns saying, “We are dealing with these dangerous, virulent, strains of the virus that are mutating and seem to be highly transmissible.

However the government was offerring $500 offset to power bills to small businesses as part of $43 million dollar package.

“I understand many small businesses have been hit this week and this next week will still be difficult with our transitional restrictions,” Mr McGowan said.

The Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup thought $10,000 in support would be more appropriate.

“Western Australian small businesses deserve better than what this government has announced … a $500 credit simply doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t give the businesses here the support that they deserve,” Mr Kirkup said.

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) WA chief executive Bradley Woods estimated over $100 million in revenu has been lost due to the five day lockdown.

Western Australia Health Minister Roger Cook declared that hotel quarantine security guards would not be able to work other days while doing that role.

The plan to increase WA’s intake of returned overseas travellers would be delayed until the end of February.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson was full of praise for the community too.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting  Corporation)

We know it’s been very inconvenient for many people, but the way the community has responded has been magnificent and it has helped us to get on top of this latest COVID-19 problem. The fact that police have handed out more masks than infringements, I think, reflects the values of all Western Australians and their commitment to each other,” Commissioner Dawson said.

To my fellow Western Australians, I thank you. I also want to say that I regret and apologise for any distress, loss or inconvenience the events of this week has caused. I know it has been hard and I wish it didn’t happen,” Premier Gowan said.

“The sacrifices made this week, the commitment by everyone to do the right thing, has been incredible.”

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – GOD BLESS SIR TOM MOORE

A mural of Capt Sir Tom in Southport

February 02

Many years I was walking through the city on my way to work in the lead-up to ANZAC Day.

There was a gentleman big jowled sitting in a wheelchair selling badges.

On his cap was stitched 105 Field Battery.

I noted that 105 had been at the battle of Long Tan.

“Long Tan was the last action I was in,” he told me.

I thanked him, I asked him to pick a badge out for me. He chose a slouch hat with the feather that denoted the Australian Light Horse. Our calvary that charged at Beersheba in World War I and now rode armoured personal carriers.

I wondered if he had a relative that served in the Light Horse and that is why he chose it.

But I did not ask.

We said our farewells and walked on to work.

The gunners at Nui Dat rained down hell on the Vietnamese at Long Tan. Over three thousand rounds in three hours from their L5s. Without them the vastly outnumbered 6RAR soldiers would have been overrun.

At one point they were ordered by the Australian infantry to fire on their own positions, the situation so precarious.

Here was a man who had been there.

He had a story.

I wondered how many people passed him that day oblivious to this fact.

I wanted to hear his story.

We owe a lot to our vets but how often do we even recognise them?

Captain Tom recalls fighting on the front lines in Burma in WWII and  memories of VE Day | EXPRESS INFORMER

I imagine it was the same for Captain Tom Moore for many years.

A hero in our midst unheralded but loved and known and appreciated by those in his community.

That all changed last year.

A simple goal on his part to use his walker and do some laps of his garden to raise some money for other heroes galvanised a nation to action and lifted morale in the most of desperate of times.

It was never what he did that was the big deal – it was what he got us all to do through the simplicity of his actions and beliefs.

We were and are in trouble – so ask yourself what are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Where is the help needed most?

Captain Tom Moore had an answer to all three of those questions and got to work.

Captain Tom Moore invited to ring Lord's bell and offer England team-talk |  England cricket team | The Guardian

The fact that a veteran of war raised funds for those on the frontlines of saving lives and risking their own in hospitals and health care centres across the country was wholly appropriate.

One old hero spurned to action yet again for our current health care heroes of today.

His old Regiment gave him a medal and an Honour Guard as he finished his final laps. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over his house for his birthday. The Queen knighted him.

But perhaps his greatest honour and at the heart of his legacy is 1.5million people donated to his NHS Fundraiser and over 39 million pounds went to our health care workers.

One and half million people did something inspired by him.

Countless more too indirectly, prompted to take action even if it was in support of another charity or through another mechanism other than fundraising.

Why the British hero Captain Tom Moore mattered - Chicago Tribune

You of course already know where this is going.

Captain Tom Moore was admitted to hospital on Sunday and passed away on the 2nd of February, 2021 from COVID.

He was 100 years old.

It had been less than a year since he completed the 100th lap of his 25metre garden on the 16th of April, 2020 way ahead of the deadline of his birthday on April 30th.

Medication that he took for pneumonia meant he could not be vaccinated. Somehow the fact that a hero of the COVID pandemic who could have passed from a whole range of natural causes at such an age was cut down by the virus quietly angers me.

But Captain Moore faced the foe we are all facing with dignity and grace and courage.

One last example of inspiration.

One more act of courage from a man who had lived his life well and a soldier who had never failed to answer the call to action and to do his duty.

Britain′s ′Captain Tom′ dies of coronavirus at age 100 | News | DW |  02.02.2021

The flag at 10 Downing Street flew at half mast, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying, “Captain Sir Tom Moore was a hero in the truest sense of the word. In the dark days of the Second World War he fought for freedom and in the face of this country’s deepest post-war crisis he united us all, he cheered us all up, and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit.He became not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world. Our thoughts are with his daughter Hannah and all his family.

His daughters Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeirareleased a statement full of thanks to everyone but in particular our health heroes who they wrote, “unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined.”

We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime. We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother.

Who was Captain Tom's wife Pamela?

Dr Adam Briki on working for the NHS and the fundraising of his great  uncle, Captain Tom

Picture shows proud Captain Tom Moore with his daughter on her wedding day  - Mirror Online

Captain Sir Tom Moore: His Life In Pictures

Who is Captain Tom Moore's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore?

Captain Sir Tom Moore: 'I always think of the beneficial things' | British  GQ

An Audience with Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Sir Tom Moore's daughter -  MKFM 106.3FM - Radio Made in Milton Keynes

We shared laughter and tears together. The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever,” they wrote.

God bless Captain Tom Moore and thank you for your service.

Rest now old soldier.

Your duty is done.

We can’t all be heroes like Captain Tom Moore but we can all live a little bit more from his example.

-Lloyd Marken

Captain Sir Tom Moore's funeral to get flypast by WWII plane | World news |  The Guardian

COVID-19 DIARY – WAY OUT WEST ORDERED TO STAY IN

Western Australia waiting for more COVID-19 test results to determine end  of lockdown | 7NEWS.com.au

31 January 2021

The last day of January, 2021 marked one year since the discovery of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In the year since, there had been 3,796,092 confirmed cases and 105,571 deaths.

In Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced a five day snap lockdown following a hotel quarantine security guard testing positive to COVID.

The lockdown followed a similar pattern to the three day lockdown in Brisbane earlier in the month following one case in light of the faster spreading UK variant.

The lockdown started from 6pm Sunday and was scheduled to end at 6pm Friday evening if all went well.

It applied to Perth, the Peel and South West region.

Western Australia COVID-19 lockdown | National Retail Association

You could leave home to shop for groceries or medical needs including compassionate requirements for vulnerable citizens.

You could exercise in your local area going for walks with one other person for one hour a day.

You could go to work where working from was not possible.

There was a run on at the shops like there had been earlier in the month in Brisbane despite the fact that as per the Brisbane lockdown grocery stores remained open and could be attended for resupply.

I’m not judging, I’d taken my precautions days earlier in Brisbane.

Covid: Australian city of Perth goes into snap lockdown after guard tests  positive - BBC News

As was to be expected with such a lockdown, pubs, clubs, playgrounds, gyms, sporting venues, cinemas, casinos, places of worship and libraries were all shut.

Restaurants and cafes could only do take away.

No visitors were allowed to visit the extremely vulnerable in hospitals and aged care.

Weddings were cancelled and funerals could only be attended by up to ten people.

Travel between regions was not allowed and the WA police moved to set up vehicle checkpoints.

The next day schools were due to re-open but instead they would remain closed for another week.

It is in effect an extension of the school holidays,” Premier McGowan said.

Outside of the lockdown areas school would resume as scheduled.

Tough break for the kids in those areas.

I know for many Western Australian, this is going to come as a shock. Western Australians have done so well for so long, but this week it is absolutely crucial that we stay home, maintain physical distancing and personal hygiene, and get tested if you have symptoms. This is a very serious situation, and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to stop the spread in the community,” the Premier said.

There was an impending state election in WA and McGowan had proven very popular for his handling of the COVID pandemic. This decision showed a Labor Premier yet again putting lives ahead of other concerns.

Queensland Health declared the locked down areas to hotspots and anybody travelling from them would need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Queensland.

Covid Vaccine: Israel's Entire Population May Receive the Shot by Spring -  Bloomberg

On the 31st of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 102,259,861 confirmed cases worldwide with a daily increase 564,517.

More than 100 million cases had been reached on the 28th fo January, 2021 with 100,511,774.

There had been deaths globally with a daily increase of 2,218,894 with a daily increase of 13,912.

In Australia there had been 28,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 770,793 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,690. There had been 19,801 deaths with a daily increase of 137.

New variant may not have changed COVID-19 pandemic course in UK, says study

In the UK there ahd been 3,796,092 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,275. There had been 105,571 deaths with a daily increase 1,222.

In India there had been 10,746,183 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13,052. There had been 154,274 deaths with a daily increase of 127.

In the United States of America there had been 25,676,612 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 164,415. There had been 433,173 deaths with a daily increase of 3,521. Twenty five million cases had been reached January 27 with 25,050,308.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIV

Qld's harsh border policy – a conversation with Joe Branigan | Queensland  Economy Watch

 

January 28

 

On Thursday the World Health Organisation reported there had been more than 100 million confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 589,451 bringing the total to 100,511,774.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that come next monday, the first day of February that travellers from 35 LGAs from Greater Sydney could come to Queensland for the first time since the 21st of December, 2020.

There had been a hard border in place between Queensland and New South Wales from the 25th of March, 2020 to the 10th of July, 2020.

That hard border was put in place again from the 8th of August, 2020 until the 3rd of November, 2020. 

On that day while the hard border came down for the state, residents of the Greater Sydney area would be stopped at border checkpoints.

Just under a month later on the 1st of December, 2020 they were welcome too.

But with the Avalon and Berala clusters on the eve of Christmas residents of the 35 LGAs of Greater Sydney were shut out on the 21st of December. 

The hard border with all of New South Wales resumed the next day.

Now the border was going to be open to all, no border declaration passes because there were no hotspots in the country.

The 28 day rule of no community transmission in New South Wales which was a previous benchmark had not been met – it had only been 12 days.

No, we haven’t ignored the rules at all. [Queensland’s Chief Health Officer] Dr Young is very confident in her discussions with the Chief Health Officer of New South Wales and those cases can be related back to the original clusters, so she’s very confident the 28 days has been met,” advised Premier Palaszczuk. 

There was a hint of a sales pitch to proceedings.

 

Coronavirus border restrictions: Queensland reopens border to all of NSW  from February 1, premier confirms

 

I think you’ll see a lot more collective response from premiers and first ministers, to try and get this right. As we’ve seen, the hotspot program has been working quite well. Now is a great opportunity to start making [travel] plans, especially around the Easter holidays,” she said.

The Federal Jobkeeper program was due to end soon and the Far North had been sufferring without international tourists and disruptions to domestic travel compounded the issue. Jobkeeper it was said had been a lifeline and the Federal government held those pursestrings.

More on brand was the Premier’s declaration, “If there was an outbreak of that UK variant strain, I think we’d have to shut down immediately like we did in Brisbane, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told during a radio interview welcomed the news.

The important thing is that the right outcome is achieved. We haven’t had a hotspot in NSW for a while and even if we do, the whole state doesn’t need to suffer. I hope this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited. That’s my wish for them,” she said.

The bulk of national media is based out of Sydney and Melbourne and there had definitely been a slant from all media outlets to be critical of Queensland and Western Australia border closures. Not so much the Northern Territory. I guess the elites were upset they couldn’t travel to the Gold Coast or Cairns but were okay if they missed out of Darwin or Launceston. More their loss if you ask me.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that maybe the Queensland Premier was a victim of her own policy. 

Palaszczuk batted away the remark with, “We’ll just let New South Wales be New South Wales.

If you’re a Queensland you’ll understand how that brought a smile to my face. 

It has been a really, really long haul, and it has been tough on everybody, but I’ve always maintained, I have to keep Queenslanders safe,” the Queensland Premier said.

Palaszczuk’s caution and 21 changes to border passage over the past year had paid dividends. 1,386 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began and only six unfortunate deaths.

 

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski.

 

The change to the border would help redirect Queensland police manpower to other efforts.

At maximum commitment, we’re up to 1,300 police per roster and at the moment we’re under 800 and that’s at any given time,” Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

In the past twelve months Queensland Police had dealt with 7 million border declaration passes, processed 700,000 people through airports and checked 1.28 million vehicles at border checkpoints. 

Only 2,670 infringment notices had been handed out and 238 court orders filed for serious offences. 

“Those statistics tell you that by and large, overwhelmingly the Queensland community has done the right thing,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

It had been one year since the first COVID case in Queensland was discovered and the next day would be one year since Queensland had declared a health emergency in response to the pandemic. 

We’re all starting to see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the vaccine imminent. I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be on the globe at the moment — we’re going pretty well. No-one handed us the handbook on how to police pandemics back in January last year — because there isn’t one. We’ve had our eyes wide open and realised there is no playbook for this,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

South Australia was relaxing travel from New South Wales and there were hints Victoria would make a similar decision.

Western Australia had changed their restrictions a week earlier on the 22nd of January, allowing people from Queenland and New South Wales to enter WA if they quarantined for 14 days and had a COIVD test.

My best friend was getting married in Sydney, the change to the border restrictions meant I would be able to go but the wedding was more than two weeks away and a lot could happen in two weeks with COVID.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE LUCKY COUNTRY

Australia's CSIRO Releases 'Lunar Challenge' Space Exploration Roadmap -  SpaceWatch.Global

January 24

There was an interesting report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which highlighted yet again a two speed economy in the country.

There had been a 1.9 billion dollar jump in savings from pre-COVID trends.

The richer you were the richer you were probably getting, the poorer you were the poorer you were probably getting. Car sales were up, house buying was up too and consumer spending was almost back to normal.

But!

Those on lower incomes jobs were more likely to have lost work or lost income.

There had even been job growth in high income work!

Generally speaking people who could afford a holiday, a night out, international travel – well they saved. And the people who drove their ubers, served them drinks, and cleaned their hotel rooms. Well they lost out.

The poorer got poorer and the richer saved money.

January 25

It was one year since the first Australian COVID-19 case was discovered in Australia.

One year on the World Health Organisation reported there had been 28,766 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 909 Australians that had died from the disease.

On the same day the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in Australia although the AztraZeneca vaccine was going to be the main one used in Australia, the Pfizer one was the first to approve.

ABC analyst Casey Briggs did advise it would, “We’ll be waiting a little while longer before anyone actually gets a jab in this country.

These words ring even more true given how slowly the vaccination roll out has been.

Fifty to sixty countries had been involved in vaccinating with 64 million doses given out globally.

Israel was one of the most vaccinated countries in the world with 41.8 doses per 100 people which was very needed given they had recorded their highest daily increase of of new cases of 10,116 on the 20th of January, 2021. Five days later there 594,820 confirmed cases and 4,390 Israeli deaths.

The United Arab Emirates, Seychelles and Bahrain populations were also reaching some of the highest vaccination levels in the world.

By the way I love the way anchor Michael Rennie crosses to Casey Briggs. Often feels like some passive aggressive stuff there or maybe some sexual tension. Who knows on air chemistry is a hard thing to build.

January 27

John Hopkins university reported 100 million people globally had been infected by COVID and over two million deaths.

Another grim milestone.

And as ABC Analyst Casey Briggs pointed out, “When we hit these big numbers that it is worth remembering always that this is the the lower estimate. These are the ones that we’ve found, these are the ones that have tested positive.

There was an interesting conversation about the global COVID figures but no hard facts.

I held my breath last year to see how COVID would rip through the third world and places like Africa yet North America and Europe are still faring the worst in terms of numbers.

There were a variety of factors at play there, warmer climates could help although tell that to people living through the pandemic in South America.

Secondly reporting was not as vast, accurate or even ongoing in some countries.

Also some of these countries were ruled by dictators who could shut down the populace in a way other nations would not.

There was also the factor that some poorer nations had lived through several previous pandemics and had learnt some hard lessons.

Portugal it was reported now had the highest per capita rate in the world.

Portugal did not shut down over Christmas. Imagine if the UK had done the same?

There was good news for Sydneysiders too restrictions were due to ease on Friday.

Given I was potentially planning a trip to Sydney in the immediate future this was either good news or bad news. With the lower of restrictions it may encourage the Queensland government to change their border stance. Bad news in the sense that if it led to an outbreak the borders would stay up.

Five visitors in a home was increased to 30.

Fifty people could gather together outdoors.

Three hundred could attend a funeral or a wedding, although only a bridal party of twenty could dance.

No cap on hospitality venue numbers but a four square metre rule was in place. Hopes for a two square metres rule in two weeks it was reported could double numbers at venues.

People did not have to wear masks but were encouraged to where they could not effectively maintain social distancing.

The one year anniversary of COVID in Australia coincided with Australia day.

Australia is sometimes referred to as ‘the lucky country’. I certainly felt lucky to live in Australia this past year. Lucky that after many years of intermittent work I had a permanent job during a global crisis. I had enjoyed holidays, saved up money while others lost everything. I sought to help where I could but the suffering has been so vast. Our luck has been undeniable in the face of the plight of others.

A loss of 909 in comparison to 100,000 or 400,000 or two million is undeniable.

And it sticks to the forefront of your mind when the 100,000 is in a country where a family member lives.

So yes Australia has been the lucky country.

Not without its own failures, not without its own loss and not without its own need to remain vigilant as we hope the situation changes with the roll out of vaccines across the globe and its going to need be the globe and fast if we want this to have a chance of working.

But for now I had to count my blessings.

On the 27th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 99,921,895 globally with a daily increase of 487,000.

There had been 2,155,748 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,447.

Two million deaths has been reached on the 16th of January with 2,007,200 souls lost.

The highest daily increase globally of new cases was 842,448 on the 20th of December, 2020 a little over a month earlier.

The highest number of daily deaths globally would be the next day with 16,716 reported on the 28th of January, 2021.

In Australia there were 28,780 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. There were 909 deaths.

In Canada there were 753,011 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,628. There were 19,238 deaths with a daily increase of 144.

In the United Kingdom there were 3,689,750 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,088. There had been 100,162 deaths with a daily increase 1,631.

The United Kingdom had officially reached more than 100,000 deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took full responsibility but I don’t know if that good enough given the precdent of decisions taken by other countries. I’m no expert but Johnson’s strategies were slow in comparison to othe countries and saying you took full responsibility is not the same as actually taking it.

The first time I watched widow Gordon Bonner being interviewed I cried. His wife died from COVID.

Her name was Muriel Whiteley before marrying Gordon at age 20 in 1957. They had been together all that time since.

There were many such widows in the UK, the U.S., Brazil, Russia, China, Kenya and Australia.

We’re all united in our grief, maybe we can all be united in efforts to fight this thing.

In India there had been 10,689,527 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,689. There had been 153,724 deaths with a daily increase of 137.

In the United States of America there had been 25,050,308 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 133,409. There had been 417,889 deaths with a daily increase of 1,885.

The lucky country indeed.

-Lloyd Marken