First thing’s first: The worst is probably behind us. With the disease slowly dying down in Australia and with mass vaccination underway, things are getting better. However, we can’t ignore the fact that getting back on track is going to be a bumpy ride as well. For Victoria generally and Melbourne specifically, being hit the hardest by the pandemic, it is probably going to be even bumpier than the rest of the Land Down Under.
What are we expecting to witness in the next few months? How is this going to affect our day to day lives? How long is this strange era going to last? We’ll try to answer all of these questions, and to understand what the “post COVID problems” are really about. But first, a quick look at the past year in Melbourne.
COVID-19 and Melbourne
It seems like a hundred years ago, but the first Coronavirus patient to be diagnosed in Australia had been in Melbourne, actually, on January 25th, 2020. By mid-March, nearly a 100 cases had been recorded in Victoria – most of them in greater Melbourne – and by April that number already crossed 1,000. Several infamous outbursts had originated in Victoria, such as the Cedar Meats incident and the incident at the quarantine hotel, on May 25th.
Overall, Victoria sums up this COVID year with 3 lockdowns (and, hopefully, no more in the future), with Melbourne even imposing a metropolitan-wide curfew at certain times. As of today, very little or even zero cases are being reported daily, but we must remember that the last lockdown in Victoria had ended only about a month and a half ago – so it is too soon to let out a final sigh of relief.
So, what are the post COVID problems?
Experts say that, while we’re not expecting another outburst in Melbourne, and subsequently no more drastic measures, its impact is still going to be felt on society for a long time. Even if we only speak of health issues, we can’t ignore the fact that many recovering patients still experience some side effects, which prevent them from going back to full functionality. This means that we’re not going to bid farewell to crowded hospitals in the near future.
Add to that the fact that people are still wary of things like social gatherings and events, and you’ll understand why many Melburnians are still not resuming their routines. This means on one hand that unemployment is still relatively high, and on the other hand that commerce and business is also lower than usual. And the result? For the first time in 30 years, Australia is in a recession, and it’s going to take time for things to get better, naturally.
Back to the here and now, there’s another important factor to be noted, and that’s the termination of the JobKeeper program. Analysts predict that approximately 40,000 people are going to lose their jobs permanently as a result of the government cutting funding to businesses forced to send employees on unpaid leave as a result of the disease – in greater Melbourne alone.
“We are already seeing more and more people approaching us and showing interest in our lead generation programs,” told us Johnathan Greenwood from Crystalead, a digital marketing company offering freelancers the opportunity to campaign for businesses and earn commissions. “We are sure this is partly a result of an urgent need to find ways to make ends meet.”
Not all is gray
After all of this bad news, let’s end with some optimistic projections. While JobKeeper is history, the Australian government has repeatedly promised to fill the void. Other plans, such as the recent JobMaker, are already in effect. While there is a big debate regarding its costs against its benefits, it can be especially helpful in the Melbourne area, since it is targeted at the employment of younger people.
As for the recession, well, this is naturally sort of like a snowball. As more and more people return to their jobs, there will be more buying power, and subsequently even more people will leave the unemployment cycle. A full lifting of all restrictions will certainly aid in that, and right now that’s where Victoria is headed – aside, of course, from some restrictions concerning international travel.
“We at Crystalead are prepared for the worst, ready to provide income to anyone during these confusing times, as are many other businesses in the Greater Melbourne area,” summed up Greenwood. “Ultimately, solidarity is the key out of these confusing times.”