Promising to ease lockdown restrictions in the future of a pandemic is a bit like trying to devise a timetable for a bus heading down a mountain pass in the pouring rain, with a landslide possible at every hairpin turn.
The passengers want to know when they're going to make it to the bottom but the driver doesn't want to make any hard and fast promises. Who knows what diversions might befall them on the way.
When it comes to easing COVID-19 restrictions, state and territory governments have tackled the timetable dilemma in different ways. NSW and Victoria have come up with roadmaps, setting dates and outlining specific restrictions.
There are plenty of caveats. The Victorian roadmap, released on Sunday, has this fine-print catch-all: "The settings above are indicative only and are subject to change."
The map's most prominent landmark is an asterisk.
Up to 150 fully vaccinated people may very well be dining indoors, with pubs open for seated service, on November 5 in Victoria - as the roadmap suggests. But they may very well not be.
The ACT's so-called "pathway" released last week was criticised for lacking detail.
It made no such claims for a jolly November afternoon at the pub, or a return to the classroom. It received criticism for failing to provide Canberrans hope.
In the days since, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has sought to fill in some of the detail. He has stepped through some of possible easing options: the capacity limits and density requirements, the types of businesses that would be restricted and the ones that might be allowed to reopen. He hasn't set any dates.
"It's very difficult on this day to speculate what November is going to look like. We just don't know yet. But we will be in a much better position to outline what October will look like in a week or so," Mr Barr said on Monday.
The ACT government has taken the political bet that it's better to be vague now than make promises it might - and, let's face it, probably will - have to break.
But lockdown restrictions get less effective over time; people get restless. The Doherty Institute makes that observation in its modelling. ACT chief police officer Neil Gaughan noted on Monday people in the ACT were already getting complacent.
And that's only going to get harder. When the ACT passes the 70 per cent double dose vaccination target ahead of the national average, required to move into phase B of the national plan, there is a tough messaging problem: how to convince Canberrans they need tougher restrictions for another fortnight or so, even though they've been vaccinated in droves.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: