J.L., 30, a winemaker in Denman, Australia

I am a winemaker in rural Australia. The lockdown hasn’t been all that strong here with schools remaining open, restaurants allowed to sell takeaway, hairdressers allowed to operate and people still going to work. The government response was strong to start with gatherings of 500, and shortly after 100, people banned but there seemed to be a slow follow-up. Now it feels that you can’t leave you house unless you’re going to exercise or spend/gain money. The information from the government has felt very inconsistent jumping between “stay home” and “spend money”. People aren’t supposed to leave home unless it’s necessary however getting a hair cut is deemed necessary. Same as take-away food.

The winery that I work at has taken a financial hit during this pandemic. Sales have dropped and so have our working hours. I have heard of friends in other wineries and regions of Australia that lost their jobs over night, even after being employed for years on full-time contracts. I was planning on moving regions to follow my wife who works 7 hours away but with the stories coming from even the most stable wineries being pretty negative, I feel lucky to still be earning an income let alone finding a new job. My future feels very unknown, and uneasy, even as we appear to have plateaued, and even declined, in new cases. I didn’t want to mention toilet paper but I think that might be the biggest story of this whole event. Shortages started to happen before the virus even arrived in Australia. People started stocking up on essential items which made everyone else panic buy. At no stage have my wife and I (who escaped to the country to avoid being in the city) felt the need to do anything like that in our town. Toilet paper is the only scarcity as the supply chains have held firm and rationing imposed by the supermarkets have meant that most food stuffs have remained available at one level or another.

Although the final human toll and economic fallout is yet to be realised, I think that this has been a very interesting human experiment and we will learn and adapt many aspects of our day to day lives because of it. I think there are a lot of people that will be more hygienic, more people working from home, and more respect for the people who kept food on our tables and people healthy in our hospitals.

[submitted on 4/13/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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