Could we see geographical divergence in Australian culture?
One of the most notable things with the latest round of government enforced lock downs in Melbourne is the notable change in sentiment that's occurred.
A few weeks ago things were looking up across Australia with many people thinking that the worst of the Covid-19 situation was behind them. I remember people starting to be a lot more positive and there was a growing sense of optimism for the future. Since the Covid-19 infection rates started getting out of hand in Melbourne a much stricter lock down was imposed by the government. A visible turning point was when the housing commission flats were forcibly closed, leaving the residents unable to leave their homes for any reason for a few days which was actively enforced by police blockading the area. This was a development not seen in any earlier stages of the pandemic anywhere in the country. The result of new measures was a complete cratering of sentiment in Melbourne, a very noticeable amount of resentment, anger and negativity has started brewing since then. Since then there has been an imposition of a Stage 4 lock down, which has meant there is a curfew at night, limited reasons to be allowed to leave home and all non essential businesses are forced to close.
Unlike earlier in 2020 the pandemic situation has impacted some areas far more than others. Spread of the virus itself so far has hit Melbourne much harder than the rest of the country and has mostly been contained to this geographical region. Strict border closures have meant that people in Melbourne have not been allowed to travel, the airport is pretty much closed with passenger movements almost at zero. The state border has been closed and actively patrolled for a while which may have led to a reduction in the spread of the disease elsewhere in the country, a few high profile cases of travel have sparked a media frenzy and some panic but appear to not have created outbreaks in other states as yet. There's been lingering fears of community transmission in NSW at the moment but as of 12 August 2020 a large outbreak has not occurred there yet.
When you travel overseas one of the peculiar things that becomes noticeable about Australia is how homogenous the culture is across the country despite large distances between places. Sure there's a significant cultural divide between rural and urban, just like in most places in the world, but if you go from one major urban city to another or one rural town to another there's a fairly striking cultural similarity in many important regards. As the effects of the pandemic continue to unevenly impact some cities with regions like Melbourne extremely harshly impacted compared to other cities like Perth I can't help but wonder if we will see some cultural divergence emerging based on geographical location. The longer this situation goes on where some locations are massively disrupted and disadvantaged while others are not the more I wonder if we will start to see a significant cultural gap between localities emerge?
EDIT: It took a while for things to get back on track in Victoria in late 2020 and early 2021. Then we had a snap one week lockdown here that was just enough to get everyone unsettled again though thankfully that was enough to get community transmission down. But despite a small setback people got on with things and after a few weeks sentiment was starting to look up substantially, you could see how the mood had changed. But now (starting late May 2021) Melbourne has had the misfortune of getting yet another Covid community transmission situation. Even though this case came from a returned traveller in South Australia just like previously it seems Melbourne has faced problems to a degree that the rest of the country hasn't. It was very obvious when watching a news segment the other day there was talk about how Melbourne lockdown might continue longer than the initially planned one week duration, then soon afterwards was a news item about how fashion week in Sydney was going ahead, the pictures of people there just living mostly life-as-usual was a stark contrast. Unfortunately the positive momentum seems like it's pretty quickly fading away again in Melbourne. Now don't take this for a second as me wishing these issues on anyone else, it's great that the rest of the country has remained mostly unaffected (relatively speaking). Given than culture is often formed from shared experiences and history I feel this event has the potential to create a cultural gap between here and the rest of the country, especially if this becomes a drawn out lockdown while the rest of the country is unaffected.