Only two weeks into the second lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, the mandatory mask rule came into effect. Anyone seen without a face mask in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire risks a fine of $200.
On the day this announcement was made, I had slept in, as it was Sunday morning. I woke up and it was already midday. I checked my phone and saw frantic messages from my friends and boyfriend about face masks. I checked the news and found out that within four days, we would have to wear masks or face a financial penalty.
I quickly showered and dressed and rushed to the shops to buy masks. Turns out everybody else had the same idea. A lot of shops had sold out of masks but I was lucky enough to find a box of masks to purchase. I also managed to order some reusable cloth masks online. If I was going to wear a mask every day, I at least wanted to wear something that looked reasonably good.
Thursday came and it was time to wear a mask. I went for my usual morning walk around the block with my disposable mask on. It felt strange and claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Almost everyone else I saw, was wearing a mask too. When I got home, I must admit I felt relieved to take it off. But I know it is something that I will have to get used to in the long-term, given we have a “second wave” of coronavirus cases in Victoria due to community transmission and a vaccine is not yet available.
I am now trying to make face masks a part of my daily routine. I put a face mask next to my handbag, so I don’t forget it on my morning walk. Although I still find wearing it a bit uncomfortable, I am slowly getting used to it and I must admit I do feel safer, as I pass people on my walk.
If you had told me at the beginning of this year, that I would be wearing face masks outside, I am not sure I would have believed you. In a very short time, it seems the world has changed so much due to the coronavirus pandemic. My life is completely different to what it was before the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, I was living it up in Melbourne — socialising often, going to bars and cafes and doing trips in Victoria. My life was full and fun but I eventually paid the price and I ended up becoming burnt out and fatigued. Getting out of bed was often an effort. I decided I needed to slow down and take it easy. Not long after that decision, the pandemic hit Melbourne and I was forced to slow down.
I am grateful that this period has given me the rest that I needed but I do long for freedom again — to be able to see my friends, go out to dinner with my boyfriend and travel to anywhere I like. But we are in this for the long haul for now — so I better get used to continuing to spend a lot of time at home, not seeing my friends and family and of course, wearing a face mask.