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The pandemic

Australia’s lockdown nightmare 

Throughout the pandemic, Australians have looked at the UK as if it were a “post-apocalyptic Covid wasteland”, says Matthew Lesh in The Sydney Morning Herald. By contrast, “Australia was bliss”. Now the tables have turned. Life in London for Aussie expats like me is getting back to normal: nightclubs are open, my social diary is filling up and I recently popped to Barcelona for the weekend. Aussies back home, meanwhile, are suddenly “trapped in a Covid nightmare”. Our world-leading contact tracers have met their match in the fast-spreading Delta variant and cases continue to rise despite a harsh lockdown. Businesses are shutting, jobs are being lost and the country is on the cusp of another recession.

Australia’s zero-Covid strategy is “no longer achievable” – and, now we have vaccines, it’s no longer desirable either. The UK shows a different approach is possible. Having prioritised vaccines, the Brits are opening up, probably for good. Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling “frightened the UK into lockdown last March”, has said “the bulk of the pandemic” in Britain will be over by autumn: “an unimaginable timeline for Aussies”. Australia will need to muster the confidence to live with Covid. The alternative is an eternity of fear, lockdowns and becoming a hermit nation. This starts with surrendering the addiction to zero cases and the obsession with every single hospitalisation and death. “Living is risky.” We all eventually die. In the meantime we need to “get on with life”.