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NSW should support Sydney’s covid lockdown as much as State of Origin

NSW has been half-hearted about lockdown and the numbers show it. Now it’s time for Sydney to get real.

C’mon Sydney it’s time we stopped the whinging and started treating this like a lockdown rather than a mockdown.

Anyone can see we’re half-hearted. We think we know better, that we understand the science and that we can do what we want irrespective of what we’re told. It’s been a Clayton’s lockdown – the lockdown you have when you’re not having a lockdown: groups congregating in parks; footy players thinking they’re exempt and throwing a house party; supermarkets repurposed as cafes as shoppers gather in aisles sipping coffee with their kids in tow.

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And where has that behaviour got us? Another week in captivity only this time we’ve turned our anger on the one person who genuinely wants us to be free and back in business.

It must have pained Gladys Berejiklian to put on her black coat this morning (her red one is for more upbeat days) and announce that the lockdown she fought so hard to avoid will now be extended for another week. As the nation’s lone beacon when it comes to anti-lockdown decision-making, she doesn’t want it any more than the rest of us. She doesn’t want to keep businesses closed and schools shut but, equally, she cannot let this variant of the virus explode in the community.

It’s time for us to get behind Team Gladys in the same manner our State of Origin team got behind coach Brad Fittler to bring about a breathtaking victory over Queensland. It didn’t happen because individual players sought glory for themselves, but because they mapped out a vision for success and cohesively stuck to it.

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If any Premier deserves our loyalty, it’s the woman whose proactive and considered decision making has guided us successfully this far. Whereas her peers in other states have shut the gate and cowered in fear while treating every Covid-19 infection as if it were the end of days, Ms Berejiklian has bent over backwards to keep NSW open for business and pleasure.

Her focus on contact tracing and QR codes has seen us escape the horrors of other states who have snap lockdowns simply to allow their health administrators to catch up. Likewise, generous financial assistance was promptly promised and is due to be up and running by the end of the month.

When she takes to the microphone for her 11am daily press conferences it’s to explain, reassure, empathise and encourage. She’s clearly too busy to point score, yet she has never wavered in her belief that we have to learn to live with covid, not be traumatised by it.

It’s time we did the right thing by ourselves – for a while longer. Gladys wants this to be our last lockdown which is why she’s pushing so hard for us to get vaccinated. She’s not saying the word in every second sentence because she’s deflecting responsibility but because she knows it’s the key lever to gaining freedom.

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NSW will not flourish if we allow ourselves to fall victim to individualism and blame. The interstate rivalry which has characterised this pandemic is in danger of becoming a damaging intrastate problem if we turn on each other. Increasingly you can detect the regions sneering at the cities from their place of relative freedom yet in the same breath they’re rueing the loss of school holiday visitors and the impact it’s had on local businesses.

Even different areas within the city are at war. The Northern Beaches residents, who arguably endured a worse lockdown over Christmas and January, can’t understand why they’re being penalised this time around when they have no cases. As one resident told me: “Why are my children being prevented from going to school, and I have to take time off work to look after them, while those morons in Bondi treat lockdown as if it’s a beach party.”

The problem is people flouting the rules creates a political problem for the Premier. She is forced to assert control so as not to look weak. It allows the snarks in other states to attack her. It creates friction points for the police and ugly pictures on the nightly news.

Let’s face it, lockdown in Sydney isn’t lockdown in Melbourne. There, lockdown looks like East Berlin under the control of the Stasi. Even if you hold strong doubts about the efficacy of lockdowns, or feel aggrieved that your human rights are being trampled, or your business is struggling, stay home so we can get through this quicker.

Let’s cut the mockdown, follow the lockdown and we’ll have life back to normal sooner than you think.

Angela Mollard is a freelance writer | @angelamollard

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