There’s an old saying that you should never ascribe to malice anything that can just as easily be explained by stupidity.
With that in mind, we can only assume that the policy makers in the NSW Health department are either very, very stupid or just a bit malicious when it comes to apartments.
This week they relaxed the restrictions on the construction industry (yay!) that means people who are having work done on their houses can let the tradies back in (hooray for them!) and that also means you could be forced to sit in your apartment block while your selfish neighbours are continuing with their renovations (booooo!!!)
Yes, folks, because the Blessed Gladys keeps telling us not to leave home and the Mandarins of NSW Health find it hard to say those two little words “except apartments”, you could have to put up with renovations all around your ears while you are trying to work, think, teach your kids or just cope with stress from all the other disruptions in your life.
Also, with domestic cleaners now allowed to move from apartment to apartment and unit block to unit block, NSW Health – which chooses not to “discriminate” against apartment residents – sees no reason to tweak its current health advisory, if only just to give us a freaking break.
I was alerted by a member of the Owners Corporation Network to the new burden heaped on apartment residents this week in this Public Health Order.
And it turns out I was wrong when I said NSW Health will not make exceptions for apartment residents.
In the order for the eight hot spot local government areas in south-west Sydney where the virus is running rampant, it says everyone must wear a mask while outdoors except, amazingly, in the outdoor common areas of apartment blocks.
Why? Does coronavirus not work where there are by-laws? Is the air in an apartment block communal garden different from the air outside? Or is this another manifestation of the weird obsession NSW Health has of not wanting to “interfere with people’s homes”.
Oh, wait a minute, perhaps they mean townhouse gardens and there’s no way they could differentiate between townhouses and apartments, so when it comes to the virus, just suck it up … literally.
More likely it’s just a reluctance or inability to apply logical thought to things that aren’t black and white.
I contacted NSW Health about this and asked three questions about the latest easing of restrictions:
1. Do they mean that domestic cleaners can work in and move between units in apartment buildings?
2. Do they mean that builders and tradespeople can resume renovations in apartment blocks, even though there may be people working from home who can’t even escape to cafes to work?
3. Does Fair Trading, as the government body responsible for strata, have any input into the extent and form of these restrictions, given the proven “hot house” potential of virus spread in strata blocks?
NSW Health’s response was to not answer the questions but send me a copy of the latest press release with an email that didn’t say “work it out for yourself” but might as well have.
So here is my response to the geniuses who took two weeks to realise that if wearing masks in offices was a good idea, that might apply to apartment blocks too.
What you are saying is, tough luck on apartment residents forced to work from home, your neighbours can carry on with their renovations because NSW Health refuses to see any difference between people who live in apartments and people who live in houses.
And yeah, of course cleaners can move from building to building and apartment to apartment until someone gets the virus because that never happens (except when it does).
Does NSW Health realise that 1 million Sydney residents now live in apartments? Of course, but, hey, half of us are renters so, really, who cares?
As for Fair Trading, it’s all very well for Minister Anderson to be protecting us from the dodgy developers of future apartment buildings.
How about speaking up for apartment residents right here and now who are being treated as second-class citizens, forced to bear the brunt of our lockdown stresses, because high and mighty NSW Health can’t think outside of the quarter-acre box?