If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that life can change in an instant.
At the start of the week, Australians were winding down for the festive season, planning long-awaited family reunions, packing for much-needed holidays.
The rapidly growing NSW northern beaches coronavirus cluster has now thrown all that into doubt. Premier Peter Gutwein is allowing Tasmanians to return home from high-risk areas if they can prove residency and has instructed them to quarantine in a suitable residence for 14 days and take a COVID test immediately.
It is a timely reminder that life will not go back to normal until we have a vaccine, no matter how desperately we want it to.
As the NSW health minister said on Friday, complacency has not just been creeping in over the past few weeks. It has crashed through all of us like an avalanche.
We've ditched the elbow bump and started embracing again. We bypass the hand sanitiser at the supermarket. We've stopped wearing masks and started to question whether all the caution is necessary.
Australia has made great strides, and it has come at a great cost. Jobs and businesses have been lost. Families have been separated. Australians are still stranded overseas, in increasingly precarious situations.
As a nation, we've racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. Super accounts have been raided. And while there are signs of recovery, there's still more economic pain to come. After the sacrifices, many of us will feel like we've earned a reprieve.
But as the pandemic has proved time and time again, the moment we take a slight stumble, the virus can get on top of us.
We saw it in Victoria. We saw it again in Adelaide. We've been here before. We've learnt a lot. Now we need to remember those lessons. Go and get tested, even if you've got the mildest of symptoms.
Stay home if you're unwell. Wash your hands. Wash them again for good measure.
Physically distance. If you can't stay 1.5 metres away, wear a mask. Help our contract tracers do their job and sign in at venues. Have gatherings outside if possible. Look after each other. Look after yourselves.
Christmas will be the biggest test for all.
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