In the early hours of 2 August, I released a post anticipating Stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne based on a rare tipoff a day or two prior. In that post, I explained why I wasn’t surprised Stage 4 would be in effect later this week although I was surprised just how quickly it was announced and implemented hours later (during an internet blackout, first blamed on a cyberattack and then retracted, I might add.)
My reasoning, as seen below in the XYZ thing, was that we’re not at vaccination yet which is the plan, and therefore Stage 4 was just the next stage in the timeline.
In the Premier’s announcement today, he stated the closure of all non-essential businesses and mass onsite work. Thousands of businesses and livelihoods affected. Towards the end of the statement was the ominous mention of Stage 5 restrictions.
Complete shutdowns. No groceries. What’s left to shutdown besides essential services themselves? Food production, hospitals, supply distributors?
Judging by history, the future of restrictions is often already mentioned – subtly or plainly – to the point where it’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s usually cautioned in the announcement of the previous restrictive measure and has served as a clear indicator of what Melbournians and Victorians could expect next.
But with the rate of cases climbing (whether or not death or recovery factors in), and the economic disaster affecting millions of Victorians, the Premier is already insinuating the bleakest of circumstances come a Stage 5.
Under what circumstances might provoke a Stage 5, I’m unsure. Until the vaccine arrives to serve as an optical reprieve for a desperate public sick of lockdowns, I imagine an interim improvement in Victoria’s COVID-19 cases leading to another ease of restrictions. This ease will be temporary. Some sort of ‘oversight’ will result in a Trojan horse that causes the conditions for a Stage 5 to be implemented. Whether it is branded ‘Stage 5’ or is an amended Stage 4 (a stricter Stage 4.5, if you will) I’m also unsure. But Dan Andrews hypothesised Stage 5, so I’ll stick with that.
The climate during and/or surrounding a Stage 5 will be desperate. People will be drawing their lines in the sand. Information not adding up, main narrative contradicting itself. People will be whispering because their voices crushed. Violence and conspiracy. Censorship and de-platforming. Attempts to assemble in protest scattered. Heavy militant presence. Unrest, crime, increased need for emergency personnel, increased need for enforcement and boots on the ground, domestic violence and families falling apart. People will switch sides out of helplessness, they’ll give in. Others will give up on life.
Stage 5 and some after-effects
Stage 5 will probably be total isolation, closure of essential businesses, rations due to reduced manufacturing and economic hardship, regular police presence, lack of access to medicines, medical prioritisation alienating certain people leading to chronic illnesses intensifying and leading to preventable death, appeal for assistance on a federal and international level. Doorknocking, erosion of privacy, and tracing of movement intensified. Technologies will be vamped up, consolidated for universal coverage – non-COVID-related uses will arise out of these technologies at the objection of many. Certain construction work in the technical field will continue for research and infrastructural purposes – as a result, people will step into a new world (a precursor being smart parks popping up during the first Melbourne lockdown.)
I’m struggling to imagine what the state of emergency would even be for successive lockdown stages. As Victoria was declared a State of Disaster with the announcement of Melbourne’s Stage 4. Stage 5 / State of Fucking Shit Storm. Stage 6 / State of Satan’s Ball Sack. Stage 7 / Disney Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Semantically, there’s not much wiggle room after disaster.
Each restrictive phase will just be spaced out throughout the year and until next year, with breathers in between, probably fluctuating between stages. Lockdown will squeeze/relax until the vaccine rolls out. Lockdown ends with a prick.