I Asked People How COVID-19 And Australia's Response Has Affected Their Lives

"Really disappointed at all the xenophobic and racist people I’ve come across."

A lot has happened since Australia went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented a series of strict social distancing rules. Not only has there been a waterfall of news and events seemingly on a daily basis – which have ranged from the necessary to the completely ridiculous – these rules have since had a major impact on basically everyone in the country.

With Australia still a while away before the COVID-19 social distancing rules are lifted and things slowly inch back towards normality, we wanted to know how folks were handling everything at the moment, so we asked a bunch of people how the lockdown has affected their lives and their work.

Speaking of COVID-19, the GOAT team talk about the hilarious way Pornhub is contributing to relief efforts on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

Some names have been changed for privacy reasons and are marked with an asterisk.

Robin* – Video Games Industry

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

To give a bit of context, I’m Chinese. Even before coronavirus panic was a “thing” in Australia, my relatives from China had bombarded me with (often fake) tips on how to prevent the spread of the virus and my parents obviously bought into the panic.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely, so I’ve just set up a little station in the study and use video apps to hold meetings. No change there. Otherwise, it’s been frustrating not being able to do group sports or activities outside but there are plenty of other things to do at home. I don’t think I’m getting bored anytime soon and I could get used to living like this.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

Really disappointed at all the xenophobic and racist people I’ve come across, the panic buyers, and especially those not taking social distancing seriously.

The government response has been surprisingly decent, though more so from the States than Federal. A lot is following in the footsteps of NZ, who have done remarkably well. Politicians could be more direct and clearer in their communication, though – lots of conflicting messages from various sources makes information hard to digest for the general public.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

If we have people still not adhering to social distancing measures carefully, then we’ll all be confined inside for even longer. The curve will only flatten/drop if we have 80 percent or more adherence minus essential workers and healthcare staff – you rock.

If people act responsibly, then slowly as the rate of infection drops, one by one we can start lifting restrictions – not all at once, otherwise it’ll just shoot back up again.

Suzan Mutesi – Actress/ Singer/ Influencer/ Model

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

It’s affected me quite a bit. A lot of projects were shut down because of COVID-19. But because I wear so many hats, it means I could do something else, like influencer work. Having projects be cancelled also made me become more creative with what I have, what I can do, and new ways to keep making content.

I enjoy time alone but I also enjoy time outside with others. Initially I was freaked out about all the news and reports about COVID-19. But I have empathy for people who are having it tougher than me, like the homeless. It definitely made me appreciate the little things more as the virus doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, and it’s forced everyone to work together.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

I think the government and the PM are doing the best they can and I can’t blame them for what they’ve done. They’re helping to guide the country through a tough time. The fines may be a bit much but they’re a guide to help us behave responsibly and get through all this.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

My prediction is a breakthrough in the next two months for a vaccine or cure or something. Hopefully by six months, things will start opening up again. But I think it’ll take at least a year for things to start getting back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see how world leaders and people in prominent positions will react after this all settles.

Alfonso* – Full-Time IT Student/Part-Time Retail Worker

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

As COVID-19 got more serious, my employer has made the decision to close for an indefinite amount of time with unpaid leave, unless we choose to use our annual leave. It has affected my income so it required readjusting and changing my budget on a lot of everyday things.

Uni hasn’t changed much except for the swap to online lectures and labs. The only exceptions are very specific subjects that require special hardware. Other than that, the biggest impact has been the lack of social interactions.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

Panicking buying things just doesn’t help as it creates a domino effect of panic buyers. Isolation has caused a lot of agitation for many who have had to make a large change in their lifestyle, which goes against the intrinsic nature of having habits as a human.

The majority of face mask wearers are idiots. Most of them get false information or believe anything below a N95 mask helps, while it realistically doesn’t. There are some people who wear it to prevent themselves from touching their faces though.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

Not much will happen in the next few months as long as infected people still show. It will take roughly six months after the COVID-19 lockdown before any big changes will happen.

Duncan* – Year 6 Primary School Teacher

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

Over the last four weeks of term, we saw a drastic drop in attendance numbers as more and more government announcements were made. By the time the government urged parents to keep their kids home, I only had one student in my class.

Since then we’ve been moving our systems across to educate our students in some form of online capacity. However, I am a teacher in a low social-economic area so we also need to work through ways of educating students who may not have access to the internet or a computer/tablet.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?
Overall, families and parents seem to have taken on government advice immediately. From a school community perspective, it was quite incredible to see how swiftly parents removed their children from classrooms as more social distancing rules were imposed.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

My gut feeling is that school will remain open to essential workers and online learning will be available for all other students throughout Term 2 and 3. (Maybe longer, but let’s hope not.)

Riley* – Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

Quite massively but I can’t complain as I still have a job. I am currently coaching via an online platform as we’re not allowed to use the gym. This has resulted in a lot of additional work to alter our training programs and making them lounge room appropriate. Some gymnasts are unable to attend due to issues such as space and access to tech. This has lead to lower enrollments and a range of new challenges.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

I think Australia could do more. They should have shut down straight away rather then having rules that no one really followed. This made it really difficult for small businesses to plan because no decision was really made. Also, the hoarding was crazy, that should have never happened!

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

I think we are going to be like this for the next month at least! It is scary because everything is so uncertain. So many people have no income and this may not change for months.

Andy Trieu – Host/Producer at SBS PopAsia

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

Since COVID-19 began, we’ve seen huge reduction in pop stars visiting Australia. Anything related to entertainment news and music releases has been extremely slow, so it’s made things much more difficult. The office is almost empty and I’m having to work from home more these days.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

I think Aussies are taking a hold of it and staying strong. There’s so much news and change happening that it can be hard to keep up though.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

People will have to adapt to this lifestyle because I think it’s going extend to longer than we think, but who knows.

David – Criminal Lawyer

How has COVID-19 affected your life and your work?

The courts have completely changed. All hearings/trials have been suspended and every other type of court matter is only via AVL link. But having said that, I’m lucky enough to have a government job so I’m a bit more sheltered from losing my job, but my role has changed over and over again as the nature of court work has changed repeatedly.

Socially, it’s been very difficult to essentially lose my social life. It’s been difficult to exercise with climbing gyms closing and any outside exercise discouraged.

What do you think of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19?

The response was very slow and very poorly executed. Policies and legislative changes were passed through parliament with limited thought or oversight.

What do you think will happen over the next few months?

I honestly have no idea.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

What Chris Hemsworth's Home Workout App Did To This Mere Mortal (AKA Me)

Still would not be able to lift Mjölnir.

Like most people, the COVID-19 lockdown has wrecked havoc on what was my usual workout routine. Since I have plenty of time during my iso and I needed to do some sort of exercise, I decided to dip my toes into the world of fitness apps by testing out Chris Hemsworth’s workout app, Centr.

After a few weeks of trying it out – since 6-week free trials were on offer for Centr newcomers – I can safely say that becoming the next God of Thunder isn’t as cracked up as it appears to be.

Speaking of stuff to do in iso, the GOAT team talk to a DIY expert about things to do at home on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve only been to the gym a handful of times during my 20 or so years on this greenish earth. However, I would go play squash and rock climb several times a week. This gave me a decent level of fitness going into this world of Centr and Chris Hemsworth workouts.

First impressions of this fitness app with the misspelled name were positive. After inputting your details, such as your measurements and goals, it generates a surprisingly in-depth daily workout, meal plan, and supplementary articles related to mental health exercises and health tips.

Since this is an article about working out, it wouldn’t be complete without a gratuitous “before” photo, here it is. I apologise beforehand for all the disappointment you’re about to see.

Not exactly God of Thunder material pre-Centr.

Centr was initially quite promising. There were well over a hundred workouts sorted out by muscle groups, skill levels, and what equipment you own. There was a surprisingly large menu for meal plans, and the supplementary articles were constantly refreshed so you were constantly getting new content.

But things started going downhill from about day three onwards. As great as the exercises were initially, it quickly became apparent that Centr was lacking in exercises for those who don’t have equipment like myself.

I wasn’t expecting to be met with Chris Hemsworth’s face for every workout routine and whatnot, but I definitely expected more. While it may seem like there were dozens of fitness routines for those without equipment, many exercises are repeated over and over again, and there ultimately wasn’t much variety.

The meal plans were also a bit of an issue. Sure the meals look nice, but they were quite bland and surprisingly expensive. The bigger problem was the difficulty just buying some of the ingredients due to all the unnecessary COVID-19 hoarding that’s still going on, so I ended up focusing on the workout part of the app instead.

While the workouts did leave me sweating like a cornered nun, it only took a week before I’d exhausted all the non-equipment options. It is certainly more catered towards people who are rocking gym sets than someone who only owns three gym towels.

Centr was good for a week-long experiment, but it certainly isn’t a sustainable thing to keep up day in day out, especially once everything goes back to normal.

In the end, I gave up on Centr (sorry Chris Hemsworth) and turned to the Nike Fitness App instead. This turned out to be the far better COVID-19 workout solution because Nike had far more exercises that worked your entire body than Centr could ever hope. I’m still using it now and should chosen that over Centr in the first place.

So how was my level of fitness after a few weeks of using Centr? Well I’ve actually become physically stronger and I definitely feel fitter. Sure it was mostly core exercises and squats while using Centr, but you’ll get stronger no matter what if you do a heap of them over the course of a few weeks (while eating and recovering well of course).

Oh right, I guess an “after” photo is in order, so here it is in its highly filtered glory. Again, apologies beforehand.

Still can’t lift Mjölnir.

The change between my “before” and “after” photos were pretty subtle visually and I’ll gladly admit that I used some tricks to really make the difference stand out.

After a bit of experimenting, it turns out the best time to take a shirtless photo is after working out or dehydrating yourself for a day (not recommended), flexing the hell out of every muscle, and getting a friend to airbrush the hell out of those pics.

Looking like Zac Efron in Baywatch is possible, but the amount of work and trickery involved is just not worth it on a daily basis.

So what did I learn after trying out both Chris Hemsworth and Nike’s fitness apps over a few weeks? A few things actually:

  • I’m not as fit as I thought I was.
  • Squats hurt.
  • I’ll never look like Chris Hemsworth.
  • Home workouts can be surprisingly tough, even without equipment.

In short, the Centr app wasn’t the best but it was good enough to get me to exercise. But more importantly, it gave structure to my quarantine life. Keeping my fitness up is certainly a positive, but the exercising helped keep me in a somewhat disciplined routine while serving as a way to keep my mental health in check.

This is ultimately just one person’s experience with Centr and your time with the app may well be on the opposite end of the spectrum. Or maybe I’m just not meant to ever be worthy of Mjölnir.

What I can say is that as nice as it is to have these fitness apps to help keep the rhythm of life going during the COVID-19 pandemic because having structure during these weird times is important. Working out at home won’t leave you looking like Thor, but it’s certainly a positive nonetheless.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

What Is A Wet Market And Why Does Paul McCartney Want Them Banned In China?

It's not as simple as wet markets not playing any Beatles songs.

You wouldn’t think a series of buzzwords such as “wet markets,” “China,” “Wuhan,” “coronavirus COVID-19,” and “Paul McCartney” would somehow be connected in some way. Yet in an example that’s symbolic of the weird 2020 we’ve had, all those aforementioned words are connected in an absolutely tangible yet still ridiculous way.

Since you might be hearing about these buzzwords for a little bit, here’s an explainer on what the hell a “wet market” is and how it relates to “China,” “Wuhan,” the coronavirus pandemic and one of the Beatles.

Speaking of things that are, uh, wet, the GOAT team talk about the thirst trap that is MasterChef on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

What the hell is a wet market?

A wet market is simply a marketplace that sells fresh food and produce, as well as some kinds of live animals (like chickens) and seafood. For comparison’s sake, a “dry market” is one that sells durable stuff like clothes and electronics.

Now these are called “wet” markets because of the constant wet floors caused by melted ice, which is used to keep food and produce from spoiling.

Okay, so why are people talking about wet markets?

These wet markets are especially popular in Asia and are the most common food outlet for China. Despite cultural misunderstandings of what wet markets are, worries over the cleanliness of such places, and how they can be a hub for disease (which is fair enough), they’re essentially the same as what we call a farmer’s market in Australia.

While the exact origins of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, reports of the coronavirus’ link to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, has caused people to immediately assume that the disease originated from wet markets.

Throw in past experiences with SARS and the H5N1 avian flu, both of which were also believed to have been linked to wet markets, and what you get is a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, and a rise in xenophobia.

This in turn has caused a heap of people – mainly politicians and celebrities – to call for the closure of wet markets.

Wait, so people are jumping to conclusions without basing them on facts?

Yeah, basically.

Had people like Scott Morrison and Ricky Gervais actually did some research before jumping on the uninformed bandwagon, they’ll probably realise why the World Health Organisation said wet markets should be able to continue trading.

While wet markets can be health risks, they’re nevertheless an important food source for many people in Asia and it’s still yet to be confirmed if COVID-19 even came from the wet market in Wuhan. The WHO told SBS News that “with adequate facilities, proper regulation and good hygiene practices it is possible to have safe food sold in wet markets.”

Just an FYI, places in Australia like Sydney’s Fish Market are also technically wet markets and therefore should also be shut down if the people kicking up a stink get their way.

What’s Paul McCartney’s role in all this?

Ah right, so Paul McCartney is one of the many people who are calling for the closure of wet markets, saying on Howard Stern‘s radio show:

“I really hope that this will mean the Chinese government says, ‘OK guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here.’ Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if this is the only thing it seems like you can blame on those wet markets. It seems like SARS, avian flu, all sorts of other stuff that has afflicted us … and what’s it for? For these quite medieval practices. They need to clean up their act. This may lead to [change]. If this doesn’t, I don’t know what will.”

It’s no surprise that McCartney would say stuff like this given his well-known activism and for being a long-time vegetarian, but it’s still a bit odd hearing a Beatle say such things, especially about eating bats.

Hopefully this has helped cleared up a bunch of stuff about wet markets, the coronavirus pandemic, and Paul McCartney because it’s a wild time for misinformation and the last thing we need is people getting the wrong ideas about stuff.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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