Australia Melbourne's 'Freedom Day' isn't what it seems

10:30  21 october  2021
10:30  21 october  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Premier Daniel Andrews has snubbed Melburnians as they prepare to leave what has been the longest period of Covid-19 lockdown on the planet.

Instead, smiling health bureaucrat, Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie, addressed the daily press conference on Thursday to declare their hard lockdown would officially end at 11.59pm.

With 70 per cent of Victorians now vaccinated, Melburnians will from Friday be allowed to freely travel within the metropolitan region.

By then, they would have spent 262 days in harsh Covid-19 lockdown since the pandemic hit - surpassing that experienced by Argentinians.

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Accompanied by Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino, Mr Cowie beamed as he spoke of the 'new freedoms' Melburnians could soon enjoy.

In recognition of the pain Victorians have experienced after months of house arrest, Mr Merlino announced nine pop-up mental health clinics would open across Melbourne.

While the true mental health toll of the lockdown on Victorians will likely never be known, Commonwealth Health Department statistics reveal between March 16 last year and June 27 this year almost 17.6 million Victorians accessed Medicare Benefits Schedule payments for mental health services.

The toll on Victorian children will likely be realised in the decades to come.

Melbourne students spent more than 20 weeks learning from home last year.

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When Grade Prep kids (aged five to six) were allowed to return to school this week they had spent 74 days behind a computer screen at home.

For 20 long weeks since the pandemic began they had been unable to attend a playground.

On Saturday, they will still be forced to Zoom into classes such as ballet despite being able to sit in a classroom all day with other children.

Even then, it will only be for three days a week.

Students who began high school last year still remain locked-up at home and will endure a staggered return to the classroom between now and November 5, when the state is expected to reach an 80 per cent double-vaccination status.

While Melbourne's CBD will bustle with activity on Friday night, it will be a shadow of its former glory for perhaps years to come.

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Retail shops will remain firmly closed despite the easing of obviously contradictory restrictions on businesses such as hairdressers and pubs.

The cost of lockdown on Victorian businesses equated to $8.3billion last year.

In March, Victoria's State Budget revealed its total debt was at more than $61 billion, with net government debt increasing by $17.4 billion in the previous six months.

More than 3000 private businesses have shut their doors permanently - some having never had a chance to even open them before they were locked down and destroyed.

Melbourne's CBD has been hit hard, with empty shop fronts scattered across the city.

Those pub and restaurant owners that open on Friday will count themselves lucky.

Many are insolvent and without help from their landlords will fade away in the weeks ahead.

In Melbourne next week, people still won't be allowed to pop down to their local retailer unless they have somehow set-up shop outdoors.

Retail trade has been closed for more than six months.

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A look at unemployment figures would suggest Victorians had been enjoying an economic boom, with an unemployment rate of just 4.8 per cent.

What We Have Lost

  What We Have Lost In three distinct and different places, a similar sense of loss—of liberal values, of freedom, of hope—is overwhelming.Since prodemocracy protests erupted there in 2019, at the same time as anti-corruption demonstrations in Lebanon, I’ve witnessed my own country’s collapse under a plethora of crises: the implosion of its economy, the enormous blast at the Beirut port, and of course the pandemic, all of it wrapped up in endemically corrupt politics and meddling by foreign powers, notably Iran. Decades of progress since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990 have been erased, and thousands of Lebanese are rushing for the exit.

The state had reached an all-time high of 13.171 per cent in 1994 and a record low of 4.006 percent in August this year.

Looks can be deceiving, AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said this month.

'The unemployment rate has become pretty useless as a guide to how the labour market is faring at present,' he said.

'Covid had created distortions in the labour market, which meant the unemployment rate needed to be taken with a large grain of salt. These included people withdrawing from active job hunting, as well as a rise in people being classified as employed but working zero hours.'

There were 258,464 Victorians on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance in August - 81,853 more than the 176,611 Victorians on welfare ahead of the first lockdown last year.

Victoria's tourism, arts and live music industries have been decimated and continue to be hamstrung into non-existence.

In 2018-19, tourism in Victoria was estimated to be worth $29.4 billion of Gross State Product and 6.5 per cent of the total Victorian economy, generating 263,300 jobs.

As a result of the lockdowns, total tourism expenditure in Victoria totalled just $13billion in the year ending December 2020, a decline of 60 per cent year-on-year.

Total tourism expenditure in Victoria recorded a net loss of $19.5 billion year-on-year.

International education had also played a key role in the state’s visitor economy.

Today those remaining students line up in Melbourne's CBD for free food just to survive.

On Thursday, Mr Andrews put out a tweet congratulating Victorians on reaching the 70 per cent vaccination target.

'Because of everything Victorians have done, tomorrow we can start getting back to the things we love. Thank you Victoria - I'm so proud,' he wrote.

The reality remains that Melburnians are not really free - a point noted by many a Victorian that took to social media in response.

'It's not really the end of lockdown though is it,' one man wrote. 'I'll be glad to be getting to the pub, but I'm still banned from seeing my parents. I can't go top the beach, I can't lift weights and I can't take my mask off outdoors.'

Read more

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This is interesting!