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The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS

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Melbourne was once the world’s most liveable city. It appears that Covid-19 agrees, as the city recently ended its sixth lockdown

Victorians have been isolated for 262 days. It’s a grim statistic. In fact, it makes Melbourne the world’s most locked down city.

Unsurprisingly, Victoria is also the state with Australia’s highest number of Covid-19 infections (over 73,100), and deaths (1,005).

During lockdown, people began smiling through their face masks as they greeted passers-by on their daily walks. Cupboards were cleaned, old clothes were thrown out, and alcohol consumption was rife.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put it bluntly, “these are shitty choices”.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews

But on Friday, restaurants popped open their first bottles of champagne in months; and people left their homes outside of curfew hours. These are the things that weren’t allowed just days ago, under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.

But for some, the mental health toll of being locked down for such a long time is hitting home.

Ticker’s own Dr Kieran Kennedy says re-entry anxiety are “feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety around pandemic restrictions lowering”.

Psychiatrists believe re-entry anxiety is characterised by a major period of change.

What can help?

There are a range of techniques that are clinically proven to reduce anxiety during periods of change.

  • acknowledge it
  • take it slow
  • put a simple routine or structure in place
  • plan steps to get back outside
  • look after yourself
  • talk to people
  • recognise the symptoms.

As Melbourne, and the world opens back up, there’s one word that comes to mind for me: balance.

The shadow pandemic

Australia has recently made the shift from a Covid-zero and lockdown mentality, to living with the virus.

Other countries have already adopted this approach, like the United Kingdom, where case numbers are spiking, and smaller nations like Singapore.

“We need to update our mindsets. We should respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear.”

SINGAPORE’s PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG

Some places are still working towards Covid-zero, including China, which was once the epicentre of the virus.

But as countries begin to emerge from the height of the pandemic, the mental health impacts are also coming to light.

LifeLine—a mental health support service—reported its busiest days in its 57-year history. Calls have reportedly increased by 40 per cent in recent months.

“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day,” the company’s chair, John Brigden said.

You can almost feel these impacts in Melbourne. From businesses with a ‘for lease’ sticker splashed across their front windows, or for me, the reluctance of jumping straight into a weekend of socialising.

“Today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500—a 40 per cent increase.”

Lifeline chair John Brogden.

Our health experts are telling us that it isn’t the end either.

Professor Adrian Esterman is a former epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation. He says there are a “host of potential viruses” that may cause the next pandemic in our lifetime.

It’s important to acknowledge this, because we are not immune to disasters or change. The world is a complex place.

Importantly, there’s no race to get back to anything. Yes, restrictions have eased but for some, the time to adjust may take a little longer.

I’m not trying to suppress anyone’s feeling of excitement, rather, just shine a light on the perils of re-entry.

Back to reality

As cities bounce back from an incredibly devastating and dark period, I’m having different conversations with my peers.

We’re talking more about our mental health—the harsh toll of being isolated from the things that we love.

But moving back into a ‘normal’ routine—with social and community commitments—isn’t easy.

In fact, research shows that sudden changes can lead to tiredness, stress and irritability—the term known as re-entry anxiety.

Above all, it can lead to unease. We’ve all changed our priorities and daily activities for well over a year, it’s bound to affect our recovery.

Picnics are back, as people around the world celebrate ‘freedom day’.

For me, I wonder what the world will look like in a month, and years to come.

I’m not in any hurry to rush back to ‘normal’ because our entire sense of normality has changed.

I think it’s been nice to strip life back, and appreciate the smaller things—a walk on the beach; dinner at the table; or connecting with an old relative.

However, I appreciate that the world moves fast, and people are keen to suppress these recent memories.

As people make reservations; gather outdoors, and see their friends; it’s time to enjoy these freedoms—at our own pace.

But remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are struggling—short, or long-term.

If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact your local helpline.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Sleepover at IKEA: dozens stranded amid snowstorm in Denmark

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Two dozen staff and six customers were forced to stay the night at IKEA as up to 30 centimetres of snow trapped them inside

A furniture showroom in the department store in Aalborg, Denmark, became the bedroom of several people who were unable to safely make it home in time amidst a strong snowstorm.

Store Manager Peter Elmose told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that people could “pick the exact bed they always have wanted to try.”

People working in a toy shop next door also took to the department store to join in on the fun.

Michelle Barrett, one of the toy shop staff, told Denmark’s public broadcaster, DR, “it’s much better than sleeping in one’s car. It has been nice and warm and we are just happy that they would let us in.” 

“We just laughed at the situation, because we will probably not experience it again,” she added.

Another approximate 300 people had to stay the night at the Aalborg airport to keep out of the storm. 

According to Euronews, the IKEA sleepover consisted of feasting on chips and Swedish cinnamon rolls in the staff canteen before watching television.

“It was a really nice evening, enjoying each other’s company,” Elmose told AFP. 

“Everyone had a full night’s sleep, our mattresses are good.”

And when the shop reopened for business the next morning, all the bedding and sheets had of course been changed.

Unmade beds following the overnight stay at IKEA amid snowstorm. Source: IKEA Aalborg’s Instagram

This comes after 61 people were trapped in a Yorkshire pub for three nights last week.

The several people trapped in the Tan Hill Inn during the storm slept on makeshift beds on the floor, watched movies, had a quiz night and enjoyed a buffet meal.

Some guests even claimed they didn’t want to leave the the pub after enjoying the 17th century hotel’s hospitality.

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United Airlines makes history, operating flight with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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The aviation sector is widely known to be a high-emissions industry, with aircraft contributing to a growing pollution problem – but United Airlines just made history, in a brilliant way

United Airlines on Wednesday operated the world’s very first flight that used 100% sustainable aviation fuel, known as SAF.

Flying a jet with more than 100 passengers from Chicago to Washington, DC, the flight was the first commercial flight ever using only renewable fuel.

In a statement United Airlines said: United is the world leader in the usage and support for the development of SAF, an alternative fuel made with non-petroleum feedstocks, already having agreements to purchase nearly twice as much SAF as the known agreements of all other global airlines combined.

SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country’s vast feedstock resources are enough to meet the projected fuel demand of the entire U.S. aviation industry.

“United continues to lead from the front when it comes to climate change action,”

United CEO Scott Kirby, who will fly onboard today’s historic SAF flight.

“Today’s SAF flight is not only a significant milestone for efforts to decarbonize our industry, but when combined with the surge in commitments to produce and purchase alternative fuels, we’re demonstrating the scalable and impactful way companies can join together and play a role in addressing the biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”

The airline boss noted.
United makes history using 100% SAF fuel on domestic flight / Image: Supplied

Currently, airlines are only permitted to use a maximum of 50% SAF

The SAF used on the Dec. 1 flight is drop-in ready and compatible with existing aircraft fleets, United said.

The flight operated as a demonstration – to see how the jet would perform using only SAF fuel

The 737 MAX 8 used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other engine “to further prove there are no operational differences between the two and to set the stage for more scalable uses of SAF by all airlines in the future,” United said.

United partnered with other companies including Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum whose technology enables 100% drop-in SAF, and World Energy, the world’s first and North America’s only commercial SAF producer to make the flight possible.

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World airlines warn Omicron will hit travel again

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The aviation industry has warned the Omicron variant of COVID is set to impact the aviation industry once again

Airlines are starting to feel the effects of the new Omicron variant of COVID, with Emirates and easyJet both warning Tuesday of the risks to travel demand. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

The world’s airlines are bracing for a fresh impact from the Omicron variant.

On Tuesday (November 30) the strongest warning came from mideast carrier Emirates.

Company President Tim Clark warned that any hit to seasonal travel will be devastating for an industry already hit by two years of heavy losses:

“So, I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position. But in that time, December is a very important month for the air travel business and if that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery of that.”

UK budget airline easyJet says it’s already seeing a drop-off in demand.

It says resurgent health worries, including Omicron, have prompted people to rethink plans for city breaks.

Though it says the impact isn’t yet as bad as during earlier lockdowns.

On Tuesday the airline reported a loss of $1.5 billion for the year to the end of September.

Scandinavia’s SAS also said it remained in the red for the August to October quarter.

The latest warnings come after multiple countries including the U.S., UK, Japan and Israel imposed travel curbs in response to the new virus variant.

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