It was unsettling to wander into shops in neighbouring Queanbeyan this week and find that the QR-code check-ins and customer masks had disappeared, as they have almost completely across NSW.
After so long, the imbedded habit of checking in and masking up before entering the public domain has proved a difficult one to shrug off.
But over the border it's like some kind of ambit magic wand has been waved after reaching a pre-determined vaccination level and hey presto: we're all safe now, go about your business and spend, spend, spend.
The language coming from leaders like Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and NSW leader Dominic Perrottet has shifted away from keeping safe to "getting on with it".
Political agendas and economic drum-beating, rather than the expert health advice most of us have been doggedly adhering to for more than 18 months, now appear to be driving the decision making.
At every recent opportunity, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been telling the country how well Australia has fared during the pandemic compared with the rest of the world, how many lives here have been saved (again, comparing us with elsewhere and conveniently ignoring the complete schemozzle around getting early vaccine supplies), and what a genius job his government has done in keeping us all safe and the country humming along economically.
But across the world and particularly in Europe, arguably in a more perilous state exacerbated by the northern winter, there are lessons on offer which should not be ignored.
In the past few weeks, the new Omicron COVID variant is racing through European populations with astonishing speed and the health landscape over there is changing almost by the hour, not the day.
As her government met to reconsider lockdowns, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen late last week offered this sage observation: "In record time, the rules of the game have again been changed".
Australia's population over 16 is more than 90 per cent double vaccinated, and we know that a booster shot will offer around 70 per cent protection against contracting the new variant.
But hang on: what about the other 30 per cent, or around 5.5 million double vaccinated Australians, who will remain exposed, even with a booster shot?
The nation is indisputably COVID-fatigued, our health workers particularly. And yes, we all want to enjoy Christmas with friends and family. We deserve it.
But equally, after all we've endured we also deserve some straight answers, not empty rhetoric.
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