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Crocs and Irukandji: A World Away From the Coronavirus Pandemic. Almost.

2020-08-23 00:57:14

“It’s not like we want to do that,” Ms. Sully said of the task of forcing patrons to re-seat themselves. She and her co-workers resented the government’s restrictions. They told me the rules felt unfair and piecemeal in a place where cases of the virus itself have been so few, adding that the regulations were a pain “for everyone.”

Many locals share this attitude: though most abide by government guidelines, others are increasingly resistant to rules like social distancing, which in a place where no one is sick, can seem bizarre and almost arbitrary. (Don’t stand up while drinking alcohol. Only the bride and groom may dance at weddings. Check in to venues for contact tracing. Hand sanitize.)

And while some express empathy for Victorians — now under some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world after second wave of the virus — others express a kind of one-upmanship and pride that Queenslanders are not sick, because people in the state did the right thing, as compared with their counterparts further south.

Others go even further with their scorn.

Driving in Cabarita Beach, a sleepy beach town on the border between northern New South Wales and Queensland, I became the unwitting recipient of what I have dubbed “plate hate,” when a man, upon seeing my Victoria license plates, shouted: “I hope you didn’t bring any viruses with you.” (For the record, I had crossed from my home city of Melbourne in accordance with government restrictions.)

This kind of state tribalism is raising new and sometimes ugly questions about the reality of living in a pandemic world.

What happens when some places seem to be randomly and unfairly struck by the virus, while in others, life can go on as normal? When authorities escape blame, say for breaches in quarantine, will frustration fall unfairly on individuals? What about when they task citizens with policing new rules — in dance clubs for example — that other states have deemed to be too draconian or ineffective?

Are you experiencing moral and public health conundrums in a place hit hard by the virus, or not at all? We want to hear about your experience navigating pandemic rules around Australia. Write to us at [email protected].


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