Easter is my favourite time of year to book a lush country weekend escape. It’s cold, but not too cold. Four-day weekends rule. Mum and Dad usually feel enough familial love to pay for it, let’s be honest. But this Easter, I will stay home.
I have to admit, last week I was considering a cheeky, secret getaway. I couldn’t see why me self-isolating with my immediate family (who I live with) and my dog on a farm in country NSW would harm anyone.
We’d take our own food. Do one quick trip to the supermarket for perishables. Spend all our time reading in cosy nooks by fireplaces or as the sun sets. Do a puzzle. None of this going for bushwalks or shopping in cute towns business. Just isolation, elsewhere.
I was so ready to click book on an Airbnb, until I happened to be watching ABC News one evening. The team were explaining the reason why even the most self-isolated holiday in rural Australia could have grave consequences.
If I was thinking “what’s the harm”, I can safely assume a lot of you guys are thinking the same. Maybe you know these facts, but if you don’t – I’d like to think you are a good person who wants to break up the painful boredom of isolation if they can, but will also do the right thing if it actually needs to be done.
1. A Spread Of Coronavirus Through A Small Town Will Be Devastating
Smaller, regional towns do not have the same medical facilities as the big cities. There are less doctors. Hospitals are further away. Even a small outbreak in a regional town could lead to overstretched resources and yes, deaths.
You might think “well, I’m not sick” – but the fact is, there are people who are asymptomatic. There is also the lengthy incubation period for the virus of 1-2 weeks. This means someone, somewhere thinks they are well enough to travel – but ends up infecting those who come into contact with them.
2. If You Get Sick, You Add Strain On These Resources
Again – small towns are not built to care for masses of people. They don’t need to be – most regional towns that see visitors will only see them in high seasons, but are currently experiencing an influx of city-dwellers using the work from home lifestyle as an excuse to get outta Dodge.
This is a completely understandable desire – fuck, I’d love to move rurally for the next three months if I had a holiday home there. But even if your family DOES have a holiday home, you guys moving there now would be detrimental on the town.
If you think about it, a popular holiday town of 3,000 people in low season – so most of the year – could swell to 10,000 if all the holidaymakers flood in. That’s more than triple the population. If an outbreak occurs, imagine how impossible it would be for the medical services in place to treat everyone effectively.
3. It Makes The Source Hard To Identify
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this morning “it only takes a handful of people to do the wrong thing and it can spread the virus through the community, through sources we can’t identify.”
This is key as to why you need to stay home. A family drives into a regional town, hits the supermarket, manages to infect someone, then hightails it out four days later. The illness spreads, but authorities can’t find the original source. Multiply this by more than one person, and it’s a disaster.
4. You’re Not The Only Person Going Away
To me, the ultimate answer is this – you aren’t the only family wanting a holiday this weekend. If you were, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. But the fact is, Easter is one of the top holiday weekends where families and friends choose to head regional.
Think of every time you’ve been to a small town over Easter. PACKED. Masses of people at the shops, in the streets, on the beaches and bushwalking trails. Those people? All travellers.
Right now, the virus is spreading. It will continue to spread. What we are trying to do is contain the spread so our medical resources can care for the sick to the best of their ability, without worrying about overcrowded hospitals and a lack of ICU beds.
5. You’re A Prick If You Go
At the end of the day, after all of this information, if you still think it’s fine to go away then you’re a prick. Sorry, but a weekender right now is the height of selfishness. I understand it sucks. I feel the suckiness of it hard – I’m fucking bored and I LOVE the country. I’m going to be depressed as shit come Friday when I realise I’ve got four days in the same bloody house with no gorgeous country air.
But I’d rather have ONE shitty Easter – coz this isn’t a forever thing, it’s a temporary situation we’re in to flatten the curve and protect the vulnerable – than be responsible for someone else’s unnecessary death.
Don’t be a prick, cancel your holiday plans, and stay home.