April saw Canberra live through the heaviest COVID-19 restrictions we’ve experienced to date along with the bulk of the ACT’s case numbers, and two of the Territory’s three deaths (to date) were recorded this month.
We delved into the ‘new normal’ as self-isolation went from meaning you had COVID to becoming the standard nomenclature for life at home, and was promptly abbreviated to ‘iso’.
Food outlets forced into takeaway stand and deliver
In April under COVID-19 restrictions limiting them to takeaway, popular local cafe Red Baron found a way to innovate while maintaining work for their suppliers and staff by introducing a home food delivery service run out of their Symonston premises.
“With the current restrictions, it’s been a little bit tough in terms of maintaining our current staffing, rosters, and how much we’re purchasing off our suppliers,” Red Baron owner-operator Peter Vidovich said.
“We decided to start free delivery of fruit and vegetable packs, as well as a lot of staples and favourites from Red Baron including our coffee, chai and muesli.”
At that time, local web-based food delivery platform, Canberra Eats launched, taking on the multinational platforms – paying workers more and charging eateries less.
Canberra Eats founder, Chris Hansen, told Canberra Weekly he established the site after his hospitality recruitment business “came to a grinding halt” about two weeks ago due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
He said the platform was fully established in just a week.
Canberra Eats solely employed hospitality workers as drivers, paying them what equated to about $30 per hour, which Mr Hansen estimated is roughly twice what multinational food delivery service drivers are paid.
After 2,000 deliveries from 40 restaurants across Canberra in six months, Canberra Eats is now “having a rest”.
Honouring Anzac Day 2020, in isolation yet united
In 2020, Canberrans encouraged to participate in alternative Anzac Day activities to honour Australians who have served our nation.
25 April looked very different this year, with Anzac Day services across the country either closed to the general public or cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The ACT Government supported Canberrans in engaging in a range of commemorative activities including:
- Participating in the Dawn Service at home by standing at the end of their driveway at 5.55am on Anzac Day, Saturday 25 April
- Observing one minute of silence at 11.30am and holding up a poppy flower at your window
- Significant Canberrans laid wreaths at sites across Canberra on behalf of the public. These sites included the Turkish Pine Forest at the National Arboretum, St Johns Church in Reid, and the Peace Memorial near the Legislative Assembly.
Photographers capture snapshots of life in isolation
A number of photographers in Canberra took the opportunity to document family life amid the COVID-19 pandemic through creative family portraits.
Tracy Hebden, of Tracy Lee Photography, was inspired by a Lithuanian photographer’s quarantine windows project to start her ‘Us At Home’ photo project.
Families who take part are photographed through their windows, or on their driveway, with the process taking about five to 10 minutes. Ms Hebden said families are given access to a gallery to download the images for free, and there are usually one to three images per household.
Ms Hebden has applied for an arts grant which, if successful, will be used to create a book or mount an exhibition of the photos.
And she’s not alone. Documenting life during COVID-19 is becoming a trend for many photographers.
Ms Hebden said “everyone is getting the idea from similar projects around the world”. She thinks “it’s great” as all are doing things slightly differently and with different styles of photography.
Garran Oval declared home of temporary COVID-19 ED
Garran Oval, adjacent to the Canberra Hospital, was declared the site of the temporary COVID-19 Emergency Department (ED) that the ACT Government flagged in April.
The ACT Government invested $23 million to build, equip and operate the temporary ED, which came online in May, but as of December 2020 is yet to house a single patient.
It has instead been utilised as a COVID testing facility.
“In moving ahead quickly on this project, the government is planning for the worst-case scenario whilst hoping for the best outcome for our community. We will continue to take decisive action during these uncertain times to make sure we’re as ahead of the game as we can be,” ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said at the time.
Good news – Drive-thru weddings
I Do Drive Thru, a start-up offering couples affordable, socially-distanced, drive-through weddings, launched in the capital on 22 April.
At the near height of COVID restrictions with a five-person maximum at a wedding ceremony, the drive-through wedding service allows couples to pick a site anywhere in Canberra, be it the picturesque Arboretum, Mount Ainslie Lookout, Kurrajong Point, or their own driveway.
Couples would arrive either separately or together in one car, the celebrant then did the legals, rings were exchanged, the couple asked ‘would you like vows with that’, the first kiss as a married couple took place, and then everyone – except the happy couple – would go their separate ways.
Canberra celebrants Amelia Haddock and Pat Coelho comprised the Canberra team at launch.