Singaporeans in Melbourne share what it is like going through a second lockdown
Following the second wave of COVID-19 infections, Melbourne began its six-week total lockdown on Aug 6.
Barely a week after Victoria declared a “state of disaster“, Australia’s second biggest city Melbourne added even stricter measures to its lockdown yesterday (Aug 6), which is now expected to last for another six-weeks.
The additional measures that came into place on Aug 6 meant that now Melbourne residents are only allowed to leave their house for “work and essential health, care or safety reasons”, and they can only travel up to 5km from their homes.
Youth.SG spoke to two Singaporeans based in Melbourne, Australia, to find out how they are coping with the additional lockdown amidst the current pandemic.
Experiencing another round of panic buying
When the second lockdown began on Jul 9, 32-year-old Alyaa Amalina noticed another round of panic buying in her area.
“There was a lot of panic buying, but it was not as bad as the first lockdown. We have been fortunate to be able to get our daily necessities.
“The supermarkets have been making sure that supplies are stocked on the shelves, imposing restrictions. Shoppers can only buy two items each for supplies like fresh milk and pasta,” said the physiotherapist, who has been staying in Melbourne with her family for the past 14 years.
Melbourne imposed its first lockdown from Mar 30 to May 12, which helped to reduce the number of cases. However, Melbourne went into a second lockdown after a recent surge in community transmission cases.
In the current six-week total lockdown, most shops and businesses are closed in the city of approximately five million residents, in addition to Stage 4 restrictions that include mandatory mask-wearing and a nightly curfew from 8pm to 5am.
On the other hand, undergraduate Wendy Ngaturi, 18, was looking forward to resuming her normal routine before the COVID-19 situation worsened in Melbourne.
“I was pretty bummed out. Initially, it seemed that ‘pre-COVID’ life had resumed. People were meeting their friends. Restaurants and cafes had a ‘dine-in’ option so you can go out for brunch with your friend, sit down and just chat.
“My school was also considering resuming face-to-face learning, which is really exciting because you can finally meet new people and have social interactions.
“Unfortunately, that isn’t the case now,” said the first year student at the University of Melbourne.
Coping with being cooped up indoors
Following the lockdown, Wendy found herself spending more time indoors, attending online classes and catching up with her loved ones.
“All forms of learning have been shifted online. My lectures are usually pre-recorded and all my tutorials and practicals are conducted via Zoom.
“I live with five other people, so that’s my social life for now. I usually talk to them every day, and watch a movie together on Netflix occasionally.
“I also video call my family and friends in Australia and Singapore to check in on them,” said Wendy.
To stay motivated while staying home, Wendy kept to her daily schedule and started new hobbies to pass the time.
“I’ve also started making DIY scrunchies, which is something I normally do if I really need a study break. I’ve tried to vlog, but I always forget or don’t have time to edit them!” said Wendy.
Meanwhile, Alyaa filled up her time by spending time with her family in Melbourne, especially with her 13-month-old son.
“We had a lot of video calls with our family in Singapore and Melbourne.
“We also did a lot more cooking and baking from scratch, like pizza. I am lucky as I have my son to keep my time occupied and to cope better with the restrictions,” said Alyaa.
Alyaa also cited her experience growing up in Singapore, which she said has helped her adjust to the challenging situation.
“I am grateful for the resilience I have developed in times of high stress whilst in school, and being able to adapt to whatever situation I am in. It seems to be a common theme amongst our Singaporean friends [here] as well.
“I was in Singapore when SARS happened and that gave me an understanding of what this COVID-19 situation could possibly be like, so we were quite prepared with the mask-wearing requirements,” said Alyaa.
Thinking of their next plans
Spending more time at home has also led both Alyaa and Wendy to review their current plans.
Alyaa shared that she had mixed feelings about the announcement of the second lockdown as she was worried about her job stability.
“There may be a lot of uncertainty about our jobs after the second lockdown eases…and whether work would change, like reduced hours or not being able to work. We always have to watch the news to keep up with what is happening.
“My other concern is whether we will be able to cope financially,” said Alyaa.
Wendy, who has been living in Melbourne for the past 18 months, had several plans in mind before she came to Australia.
Wendy said: “At first, I really wanted to get an internship or a part-time job during the summer break here. Due to COVID-19, I’m not sure whether places will be hiring for summer jobs or casual employment.”
Despite having to defer her plans, Wendy is considering other options to fill up her free time.
“I’m looking at volunteering opportunities, so that I can help those in need. I’ve also been trying to learn about stocks and investment as a way to grow money, since I can’t find a job now,” added Wendy.
Once the situation eases, Alyaa is looking forward to flying home to catch up with her family and friends. She had initially planned to return home in May for Hari Raya celebrations.
However, Australia’s borders are likely to stay closed until next year.
“I am most looking forward to flying to Singapore, so that my family can spend time with my son physically and he can get to spend time with his grandparents too.”