This year has created a “new normal,” at least outside of Fortress New Zealand.
Handshakes are likely a thing of the past; hugging is no longer kosher; masks are now mandatory in many places; and concerts, conferences or café catch-ups could become a distant memory.
Tourism advertising has changed too. But not in the way you might think.
In a bold move, two entrepreneurial Melbourne residents launched a tongue-in-cheek: ‘Do Not Visit Victoria’ campaign to persuade Victorians to stay home following the latest lockdown order in the Australian state.
Images of Victorian tourist attractions have appeared across a range of postcards, mugs, hoodies and t-shirts with phrases such as:
Apollo Bay, "Stay the Absolute F... Away."
"Enjoy picturesque Phillip Island – on Google Street view, you sh.. head."
"It will be literally breath-taking if you a...holes don’t keep your distance from Mansfield."
Chances are other Australian states will deploy similar vulgar phrases in the unfortunate scenario Covid-19 spreads further across the Land Down Under.
Kangaroo Island: “eat marsupials in your own damn state.”
“Pee in your backyard swimming pool – stay away from the Great Barrier Reef.”
“Make yourself dizzy and barf in your sink, the Gold Coast is closed.”
Maybe Australians just do it differently. Not long ago Tourism Australia ran the “So where the bloody hell are you?” campaign which was banned in the UK and eventually pulled only two-years after the promotion began.
In fairness to the creators of this “new normal” crude merchandise, it was designed out of frustration and fear generated from seeing people leave the city as Covid-19 cases skyrocketed in the formally under-control Garden State.
You can’t blame them feeling this way. Just last week a large party in Dandenong lead to $26,000 in fines after a large KFC order brought police to a townhouse of partygoers at 1:30 am. Today, Victoria has more than 1800 active cases which authorities suspect was due to several mass gatherings.
Australia's plight is a warning that it only takes one selfish a..hole escaping quarantine to start a second wave and second round of lockdowns.
But rather than protesting on the streets while not wearing masks or hosting Covid house-parties, some Australians instead made some funny t-shirts to vent their frustrations.
If this is the new normal, I’d prefer rudeness over stupidity any day.