Coronavirus has spread through public life as surely it has through populations. It has taken from us something we took for granted as a basic of a full, happy, life — the ability to congregate. And with that went concerts and films, first dates and worship and casual conversations waiting for the kettle to boil at work. And, if it does take a loved one, the virus has wounded our ability to properly grieve.
It is easy to focus on and mourn these losses. But it’s also worthwhile remembering a few bad things that have been postponed, indefinitely, by the outbreak.
Cut the law and hold the applause
Sure, the suspension of parliament until August might seem like an unforgivable abrogation of responsibility during a time of national crisis, but look on the bright side: a lot of dreadful law will be delayed.
The contradictory mess that is the religious freedom bill and the anti-worker ensuring integrity bill — aimed, ultimately, at removing what tiny right to strike and organise workers still have in this country — are, for now, off the table.
Go ‘way from my window, go ‘way from my door…
The closure of places of worship is terrible news for many, but on the plus side, a number of Jehovah’s Witness congregations in New Zealand have stopped door-knocking homes during the outbreak, a practice we can only hope spreads.
A Current Affair reporters can’t jam their foot in anyone’s door for intrusive interviews for at least six months, and charity muggers can’t accost you.
The end of the gambler
Though it took an incredible and unforgivable delay, casinos have come shuddering to a halt. Some, though incredibly not all, of the recreational horse torture of the racing industry has been cancelled.
Alone in the new (lack of) pollution
The slowing of travel has caused a massive drop in the amount of pollution being blasted into the air. Look, we’d prefer a policy, but we’ll take it right now.
Alas, the stories of swans returning to Venice and elephants getting drunk on corn wine in Yunnan are not true.
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But the canal water in Venice is clearer because of the decrease in boat activity, and according to NASA, levels of nitrogen dioxide — produced by industrial processes like car engines and power plants — have been 10-30% lower than normal across eastern and central China.
The palace of culture thrown open
As we’ve been cataloging in Virus Watch — several international cultural institutions have made their work available (often for free) online.
New York’s Met Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic have been live-streaming concerts, ACMI are screening double bills online, and the Louvre, the Uffizi, the NGV and many others are offering virtual tours.
As ever, the community steps up
Head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said early on he was “impressed and inspired by the examples of kindness and compassion” emerging online.
A crisis like this does give people a chance to show their decency, and many take it: self-organising, community-level pushes to provide supplies, food, up-to-date information, or company to vulnerable people in isolation cropped up all over the country.