Since news broke this morning of a COVID-19 case at Lismore Base Hospital, the rumour mill has been running hot.
Through various messaging apps, I’ve been “reliably told” all manner of things about the case. I have no idea how much is true, though I have some good “reliable sources”, as they say in the media.
I went down the street earlier today to grab a coffee and they were talking about it in the coffee shop. “Yeah, we’ll be going into lockdown” people were saying literally minutes after the media release came out from NSW Health.
As I walked home I heard a couple of people on the street talking about it. “Ah the bloody media just makes this stuff up”, I heard one bloke say. I kept walking for a few metres before stopping and returning to say, “Hey mate, this isn’t made up by the media. This is a statement by NSW Health. I can show it to you if you like”, I said to him. “No worries, I’ll believe you”, he said.
Later in the afternoon, there was already evidence of panic buying. I went to the shopping centre to check my Lotto (a win of $7.50) and grab a haircut. People were talking about the “imminent lockdown” at the hairdresser too, even though nothing had been officially announced. At the bottle shop, two blokes walked in without masks and were challenged by the people behind the counter. They were big boofy blokes who said something along the lines of “You can’t tell us what to do”.
By five o’clock, the lockdown for Lismore, Ballina, Casino and Byron Bay (around surrounding towns) was official.
“Do you need me to pick up anything”, I asked Pat when I told her the news. “Just as well we don’t need toilet paper”, I joked, adding that the aisle at the local Woolworths was already empty.
Amongst family on Messenger, we joked about the need for toilet paper. “I’ve checked and we’ve got enough newspapers to get through it all”, Jack said. I don’t think any of the younger family members recall this, but I vividly remember using a newspaper to wipe my bum as a child. It wasn’t uncommon in the country during the 1960s.
On Facebook, friends joked they thought it would put some Murdoch newspapers to good use. Our local paper, The Northern Star is owned by News Limited but stopped its print run about 12 months ago. We have only a weekly independent now. And lots of catalogues from Aldi.