By Lucy Schmidt

As if the first lockdown in Victoria wasn’t enough – welcome to ‘Lockdown II – The Lockdownier’. Hopefully this will be the final sequel in this series, although to be honest, I am not so sure. The second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria has seen infections rise from single digits to over four/five hundred new cases per day – not to mention a growing number of deaths. Large clusters are developing and hope is sunk that the original plan of six weeks in stage three lock down would flatten the curve again. So! Get ready! Less freedoms – more rules everybody! It’s a fact that community transmissions vastly outweigh the cases arriving into the country from overseas. And, the more untraced cases, the more infections, the more stress on medical staff and services, the more deaths – I’ll stop singing now, as I’m sure we know this song very well.

But there has been a new introduction to our ‘real life play’ here on earth – A prop, or should I say costume? A mask.

Not the masks us performers are used to, but a thin shield of material to cover the face and hopefully stop the spread of community transmissions. Recent research suggests the original thought that the virus was only spread through large droplets has been updated. It is now known that the virus does not quickly fall to the ground after exhalation from an infected person, instead it stays momentarily in the air, creating a possibly deadly radius. As children on winter mornings my sister and I used to ‘smoke’ just like mum! Meaning putting a mimed cigarette to our lips and exhaling a visible warm steam of ‘smoke’. This is to be discouraged, if not, outlawed at this COVID-19 juncture. I have always urged myself to be practical-not-paranoid throughout this pandemic of ours. But, walking the Merri Creek trail on a winter morning seeing ‘jogger smoke’ exit the mouth of some poor guy schlepping up a hill for his fitness, gives me the willies. I am very lucky to have been made a super funky mask by a friend – especially since the paper ones turn my sensitive nose the shade of an annoyed strawberry.

The craziness is, folks – that we have a few renegades refusing to keep themselves and others safe because they don’t want to. Even if it has been mandated by the State of Victoria and enforceable by police AND they risk a spot fine of $200. I’m not one to come down hard on people asserting their rights. Your body, your choice, always. BUT. It’s not just your body anymore. This small inconvenience of a material barrier COULD help stop the spread. Wear them with pride. Wear them to tell others that you care about them. When you pass another ‘maskee’ – do the ‘mask nod’ that has replaced the smile we can no longer see. Do it to say, I see you doing the right thing and I appreciate it.

Here are some places selling sweet, sweet fashionable masks! Buy ‘em up people. Do it for HUMANITY!

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