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Very interesting NY Times article on how Australia is handling the reopening of theatres

Islander_fan
Broadway Star
joined:6/25/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 6/25/14

I came across this article the other day. It was all about how the theatres in Australia are operating now that they are reopen. 

They were doing things that I never thought of, and, I do think that these are things that can be implemented here on Broadway. Naturally, The usher in me thought that doing these things would be nothing short of a royal pain in the ass. Yet, on reflection, it makes sense and I wouldn’t mind. 


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/theater/australia-theater-reopens-coronavirus.html?referringSource=articleShare

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HogansHero
Broadway Legend
joined:2/26/12
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/26/12

our producers can go to Australian and learn a lot. One of those lessons struck me in the article because it is not something that it is within their power to replicate. Producers go there and quarantine. Actually quarantine. Even in NYC, where we take more steps at containing traveling covid than anywhere in the country, we are nowhere close to this. Midtown Manhattan is a bubble within which the data reveals wonderfully low numbers for its residents. But in America, I can have an active covid case and get in my car and drive into the city with impunity. And even if I fly in, we do not monitor the obligation to quarantine in any meaningful way. We are not there yet. We will get there, but it will take something approaching herd immunity. Luckily, we should have that before the 21-22 season commences. 

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binau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/29/08

It's a lot easier to quarantine an isolated sparely populated island in the middle of no where that was hit less strongly in the pandemic initially (in summer too!) than countries like the UK (with the EU at the time) and the USA that are geographically, politically and economically a core part of the centre of the world. I understand that Australia did make some good decisions during this pandemic but I find it a bit over simplistic for the article to say the difference is 'mostly' because it adopted strict safety protocols and because people have followed public health advice. They did not start this pandemic from the same starting line as others. 

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Updated On: 3/1/21 at 03:26 PM
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GiantsInTheSky2
Broadway Star
joined:10/29/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 10/29/14
“ I find it a bit over simplistic for the article to say the difference is 'mostly' because it adopted strict safety protocols and because people have followed public health advice.”

It may seem overly simplistic, because it is. If Americans across the board had taken this seriously, stayed home and worn a mask, we could be closer to where Australia is right now. Same goes for Asia. Here, we had huge numbers of people in every state not only refusing to wear masks, but also continue with stupid behavior and super spreader events. Australians took it seriously, and not enough Americans did. Which has made this all the more frustrating. This whole thing has been a really simple concept that has only been made complicated and sad because if idiotic behavior.
I am big. It’s the REVIVALS that got small.
Sunny11
Broadway Star
joined:9/3/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 9/3/14

Trump had the power last March to ban all international and domestic flights and to close state borders and the northern and southern borders for say 6 months. That would have made the country an isolated bubble. The citizens could have continued their lives reasonably normal within their local area. The virus would have burned itself off drastically before fall.
Square Peg2
Swing
joined:10/27/13
Swing | Joined: 10/27/13
To say they didn'tstart at the same starting line is inaccurate. Both Australia and the US started from the starting line of zero cases and knowledge of the likelihood of a highly contagious virus reaching their shores. When the first case came, the two countries took vastly different approaches. I'm not saying if the US did as Aus did they would have the same current result (i.e. me currently having brunch in a Melbourne cafe, maskless, knowing we havent had a new community case in days) but it would be an entirely different result to what Americans are currently enduring.
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binau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/29/08

I'd prefer to talk about the UK than the US because I think in the UK it was handled better than in the US (although some of these points still stand for the US). My point regarding why Aus/UK are very difficult to compare as done in this NYTimes article in terms of virus response is because there are a number of factors that make this more challenging for the UK:

* The virus hit the UK sooner and harder and faster than Australia during winter (as opposed to summer) - Australia had actually a couple of more weeks to assess the response and learn from others. Meanwhile in the UK and especially London there is a dense population and far more crowded mass transit systems spreading the virus much quicker and earlier than it did in Australia
* The UK (London) is geographically, politically and economically a world centre with open borders to Europe (at the time), the closing of which is not something that there was any recent precedent to do and a very very difficult and complex decision to make (of course, in an ideal world the UK should have closed their borders immediately and this would have prevented much of the virus entering but hindsight is 20/20. In 2020 the only countries that liked closing borders are associated with right-wing fascism/authoritarian/nationalism and so it was not a lever that was going to be used first.
* The UK in terms of safety measures has also not been standing still - there has constantly been national lockdowns, local lockdowns, group size restrictions, closures etc. masks have been mandatory on public transport and indoors for most of the pandemic and compliance has been relatively high on mask wearing.  Lockdown compliance maybe not 100% especially as time goes on but of course getting public compliance in UK vs Aus to this is completely different. Australia has not had to face at a wide scale the kind of constant in/out national lockdowns that the UK has faced for months and months and months at a time - there is no cultural factor of Australians more likely to follow these protocols vs UK they simply just haven't had to to the same degree at all. Many Australians do not even understand how normal their lives are vs the rest of the world right now based on direct conversations with them and the silly questions they ask about the UK. I find it hilarious and annoying to hear my friends/family complain about the relatively small-scale measures they have had to follow in Australia. It's as if some people think the UK is a sorry state because we have no measures, which is not accurate at all. 
* The UK is not handling the quarantine system as well as Aus but again it's hard to compare - the numbers of people that transit in/out of the UK are much higher than Australia and London is a world city with a much more diverse population so it's much harder to simply lock borders as strongly as Aus has done^
* Right now Australia continues to benefit from responding early, not being hit as hard initially, a much less dense population, summer & effective quarantine system that is difficult to apply elsewhere.

I suppose my conclusion is that if you hypothetically went back in time and had Scott Morrison/team in the UK facing similar scenarios I am not confident that they could have 'solved' the situation in the UK the same way they have in Australia.

^ Not to say that locking the Aus borders has been easy for many Australians including myself who cannot visit family/friends in a financially sustainable or practical manner for a very long time. Though I recognise this has probably been the single greatest thing prevent C-19 and was a good decision. 
 

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Updated On: 3/3/21 at 10:58 AM
Islander_fan
Broadway Star
joined:6/25/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 6/25/14

Yeah, but we’re not talking about the UK V Australia here. The previous posters were talking about how Australia handled things far better than we did here in the USA. There were/ are many people in America who fell/felt that COVID was a government conspiracy (not even going to start with the irony that the same people who feel that way are also strong right trump supporters and their guy was in the White House at the time.) Despite being warned that, as far as covid is concerned, the **** would hit the fan fast and hard Trump being who he was brushed it off as nothing. 

Whereas, in many other countries including Australia, might I add, people took this seriously followed all safety protocols without arguing about it and that helped out extremely well. Nothing like this happened in the US

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LizzieCurry
Broadway Legend
joined:3/7/05
Broadway Legend | Joined: 3/7/05

Aussies here, can you help me? I could swear I read an article a few months ago about how the bushfires in early 2020 prompted Australians to realize they really, REALLY had to look out for each other, regardless of government response, which also is an example of how covid hit differently culture-wise than in many other English-speaking countries.

"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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binau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/29/08

Islander_fan, I guess it's natural for an American forum to focus on the USA but I started the discussion specifically referring to this line in the article, which refers to both Britain/USA. And I would say my defence is mostly of the UK (though I do think some of the points around population density etc. are true of the USA too). 

"Australia has been far more successful at containing the virus than either the United States or Britain, mostly because it adopted strict safety protocols and people have followed public health advice." 

"Aussies here, can you help me? I could swear I read an article a few months ago about how the bushfires in early 2020 prompted Australians to realize they really, REALLY had to look out for each other, regardless of government response, which also is an example of how covid hit differently culture-wise than in many other English-speaking countries."

In the case of bushfires I do think there is an element of Australians looking after each other because culturally/historically it actually has been volunteer efforts in local communities that fight these fires via organisations such as the Rural Fire Service rather than government-employed fire fighters. 

However, I personally maintain that COVID did not actually hit differently culture-wise than the UK or Europe (probably different to the USA, a wild, weird and wonderful place that continues to shock me) - the virus just barely hit because the Australian Government took swift actions to contain the virus early such that as a culture they did not have to respond as severely in terms of individual behaviour as elsewhere. 

Maybe someone should revoke my citizenship for saying this, and while I think there is a lot to love about Australia & Australians, I do not think we are an exceptional culture that handled the pandemic better than most other English-speaking nations (except maybe certain parts of the USA). I mean, I just talk to my friends and family in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth & Rural communities - except for the occasional quick measure to respond to an outbreak they really didn't have to do anything during this pandemic. The sacrifice has been much stronger in the UK/Europe. 

If you had teleported all Australians to the UK for the past 12 months I don't think they would have behaved better at all. In fact I would suggest the opposite because UK people seem to be a bit more polite than I am used to in Australia, which I would describe as a cross between UK & USA. 
 

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Updated On: 3/3/21 at 02:54 PM
theatrepersonNYC
Swing
joined:4/5/20
Swing | Joined: 4/5/20

I think one of the other things about Australia is that by closing their borders, they have allowed tens of thousands of their own citizens stranded in foreign countries, often at risk, without visas, and broke.  If Australia had land borders, this alone would be considered a humanitarian crisis.  But for now, it's invisible, all in the name of "following the science".

I'll also add that Australia's good fortune is following a similar pattern of the entire Asia-Pacific region. It has no result on Covid that is significantly different or better than China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea, to name but a few.  Covid has affected regions differently. 

In addition, to compare Australia with the USA or the UK is nonsensical.  Australia is the size of the USA, with a total population the size of New York State plus a few more.  Compare with Taiwan instead - an island, same 25 million population. On that count? Taiwan has a MUCH better record - fewer cases, fewer deaths, and no humanitarian crisis for its citizens abroad trying to get home.

Finally, the pandemic has been disastrous in many places - the USA has a lower death rate per capita than Belgium.  Italy and Spain and Portugal are struggling. The Czech Republic is at its worst point yet.  In other words, people like to use the USA as an example of a disaster, but it ignores the reality of the global nature of the pandemic, in which the vast majority of the planet has suffered from death and destruction, in many places with equally awful consequences.  Just ask the Spaniards, British, Hungarians, French, Germans, Polish, Mexicans, Chileans, Ecuadorians, Argentines, Indians and South Africans, to name but a few that have suffered from lockdowns and restrictions to minimal avail.

The US has been saddled with appalling leadership, lying media, a terrible healthcare system, and disparities between rich and poor that have ravaged this country.  But to suggest that it's just Americans or the British that have fu****d this up is just patently untrue. 

Islander_fan
Broadway Star
joined:6/25/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 6/25/14

I don’t think that it is fair to single out one country for closing its boarders to keep things contained. Australia was not the only country to do that. 

Also, there have been a good number of countries who instructed people to stay home in quarantine and had citizens who listened and followed through on that. But, not in America. 

We had a president in office who, on more than one occasion, called Covid both the China Virus and Kung Flu. And, might I add never understood why those two names were beyond wrong and raciest to use too. Only here have there been people who dismissed this as a hoax or a government conspiracy and have done nothing regarding masks or stay at home orders etc.

I mean recently, Pelosi issued the rule that if you’re in a congressional session and you’re not wearing a mask there would be a penalty of pay being docked. Many republicans were up in arms about it. The point that I am trying to make is that if we here in America, tried, just tried, to do things the right way, things here would be very different and positively so.

theatrepersonNYC
Swing
joined:4/5/20
Swing | Joined: 4/5/20

Islander_fan said: "I don’t think that it is fair to single out one country for closing its boarders to keep things contained. Australia was not the only country to do that.

Also, there have been a good number of countries who instructed people to stay home in quarantine and had citizens who listened and followed through on that. But, not in America.


You are correct on the first count, but only Australia has refused the return of its OWN citizens, as part of an under-resourced quarantine system that allows only the rich to return (that was perhaps not the intention, but that has been the outcome for 9 months and counting) . Not only is this against international law, but it's so popular that no one is trying to change it.  These stranded citizens are collateral damage to keep the country going to theatre or the pub.


As for staying home through lockdowns, again, most of Australia was locked down for less time than the UK or New York or Paris or Amsterdam (three months between March and May or June). In almost all parts of the country during that time, masks weren't mandatory.  Shopping centers were open in April 2020.  Restaurants were full by June.  Only Melbourne has been on any significant form of lockdown for more than three months.  They simply didn't have enough Covid in the country to warrant the measures elsewhere in the world.

None of this is to disparage the results. It is simply to say the complexities are vast, and it's not simply about everyone following the rules and "believing in science".  

Sunny11
Broadway Star
joined:9/3/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 9/3/14
Another factor could be amount of indoor gatherings. I live in the uk and for most of the year it’s too cold to spend much time outside, for most people I know social life involves the pub or restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs or other peoples homes, indoor activities. During the summer and brief heat waves we might go to the beach or park, but that doesn’t happen often enough. I have never actually been to Australia, so correct me if I am wrong but from what I have seen they seem to have a more outdoorsy culture. Covid can’t spread as much in fresh air.

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Sutton Ross
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/13
Broadway Legend | Joined: 7/20/13
"You are correct on the first count, but only Australia has refused the return of its OWN citizens, as part of an under-resourced quarantine system that allows only the rich to return (that was perhaps not the intention, but that has been the outcome for 9 months and counting) . Not only is this against international law, but it's so popular that no one is trying to change it. These stranded citizens are collateral damage to keep the country going to theatre or the pub."

Yeah, that seems to crazy to me. Great points.
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binau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/29/08

Sunny11 said: "Another factor could be amount of indoor gatherings. I live in the uk and for most of the year it’s too cold to spend much time outside, for most people I know social life involves the pub or restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs or other peoples homes, indoor activities. During the summer and brief heat waves we might go to the beach or park, but that doesn’t happen often enough. I have never actually been to Australia, so correct me if I am wrong but from what I have seen they seem to have a more outdoorsy culture. Covid can’t spread as much in fresh air.

"

I have lived in Australia and the UK and I agree with everything you said. I also have to echo earlier concerns raised around closing borders and making it unaffordable for Australians to return home or visit. Why is that the conservative government can find ways to give Churches, big businesses and rich people tax breaks yet cannot help provide more financial support to people who don't want to be isolated from their family for what currently will likely be years unless they spend a significant proportion of their life savings? (e.g. for business class long-haul fares as arrival limits mean there is or was at least no economy fares, paying for 2 weeks hotel quarantine, and extended leave from work to make the whole thing worth it). Despicable.

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)