Community support is key to COVID roadmap during the lonely offseason


Territorials face a grim post-Christmas time as COVID restrictions keep many away from loved ones.

Typically, the post-Christmas period is a traditional low point as many businesses and events slow down or shut down and residents take extended breaks with their families in the south.

The worsening situation in New South Wales and Victoria means families may be separated for the holidays and isolated in the territory’s extreme weather conditions.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has already warned residents.

While the final Stage Three roadmap allows for more freedoms around Christmas time, many still have doubts about their moves.

Apart from school vacation programs, municipalities have few community activities to offer and entertainment center programs are weak or nonexistent.

What does this mean for the well-being of the Territorials as the low season approaches?

TeamHealth Deputy CEO Kylie Ella knows these will be tough times for many Territories.(

Provided: TeamHealth

)

TeamHealth deputy managing director Kylie Ella said the prospect of not seeing the family on Christmas would be difficult for many.

“We need to think about how we can improve the situation of people who are isolated from their loved ones during Christmas,” she said.

“Christmas is a significant time of mental distress for a lot of people because there is this pressure to be connected, there is this pressure to feel happy,” she said.

“And these isolated people feel it even more.”

She said initiatives like the MyDarwin program were helpful for the well-being of the community. But the community still needed to support each other.

“Maybe we need to target a little more people who have barriers to access these things,” she said.

“Can we organize more activities that promote connection, get out and do things?”

“Just by thinking creatively, what can we do for our community that fosters connection with other people, for potentially single people; peer systems, buddy systems, events that target single people or with young children.

“I think things like that will help the Territorials come this Christmas.

Composite photo of faces.
Flabana, Angie Brabet, Melisa, Annika Mogg and Ramey Samweil have shared their concerns about the current situation.(

ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne

)

On the tape

On Darwin’s Smith St Mall, many people didn’t know what the holidays had in store for them.

Damadi Skincare owner Angie Brabet of Stuart Park is planning another Christmas getaway.

“I run a business so I can’t go anywhere for Christmas because I have to work until the end,” she said.

“Right now it’s just a little fragile and I don’t want us to be stuck in quarantine for two weeks.”

Ramey Samweil and Annika Mogg are originally from Victoria but came to Darwin two months ago for a 10 day visit and are staying in an aparthotel.

“We take it as it comes. But these blockages continue, so we don’t know what to do anymore,” he said.

The territory grew up on Ms Mogg, but she would still love to go to the Murray River to see her parents for Christmas.

“If we are allowed to go to the regional region of Victoria,” she said.

“We’re also worried about being stuck there, so we’re trying to find a way to stay here as long as possible.”

Flabana and Melisa are ready to self-quarantine for the holidays in Queensland.

“Absolutely. Queensland is beautiful so we’re going to give it a chance,” said Flabana.

Greg Ireland wears a blue collar shirt, looking towards the camera, with stairs in the background.
Greg Ireland remains concerned about current trading conditions, despite government assurances.(

ABC News: Jano Gibson

)

Shoulder to wheel

While the Third Stage announcements have given companies some reassurance, NT Chamber of Commerce chief executive Greg Ireland remains concerned.

“We will definitely talk to the companies to stay neck and neck and then continue as best you can,” he said.

“I think we’re going to see some reluctance to travel anyway.

“Last Christmas was actually very strong for retail and other businesses here locally because we just haven’t left.

“Traditionally the city empties and heads south, [instead] we had pretty strong numbers.

“People … had the best December and January ever.”

While these months have come from a weak base, he said members are already preoccupied with the business of the next dry season.

“The main concern is when are we going to open up to the rest of the country,” he said.

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