Voices from Australia’s Covid frontline: the construction worker and the delivery driver

By Mostafa Rachwani
Construction worker Elmedin Begic from Liverpool in western Sydney: ‘I’m hoping to see some normalcy when we hit that 80% mark, it’s what I’ve been banking on.’ Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Elmedin Begic

Construction worker, Liverpool, Sydney

I recently received my jabs, and although I wasn’t for or against the Covid vaccine, I was for getting back to work and earning a living to provide for my wife and two kids.

I didn’t mind what vaccine I had, I try to be as logical as I can, and steer away from conspiracies. But you need to take everything with a grain of salt out there, and people are professionals for a reason.

It was a breath of fresh air to be able to go back to work, because I’m not used to being at home and I wasn’t coping too well. I was encroaching on my wife’s personal space, and it was hard to be stuck at home.

It’s why I’m hoping to see some normalcy when we hit that 80% mark, it’s what I’ve been banking on. If we get to that point, and the goalposts are moved again, I’ll be very upset because I’ve been very patient through this, but it’ll be hard to cop if we’ve done everything they’ve asked and it’s still not enough.

But, in saying that, I do understand the New South Wales government is doing what they can. I’m not their biggest fan, but I’ll cut them some slack here. It’s hard to be a leader, you’re always going to meet with criticism. They’re doing OK, although they do contradict themselves many times – like why wouldn’t you just lock down the whole city initially?

When you consider how the virus has spread in different countries and the way they’ve dealt with it, we should be seeing much worse numbers, but we aren’t. So I guess they’re doing a decent job of it, considering they’re learning on the fly like us.

But I do think they could be doing a better job of educating people about the vaccine and the virus, especially considering all the secondhand misinformation going around.

I’m just looking forward to going back to relative normalcy. I miss being free to move around, and even something as simple as not wearing a mask. I miss not having to wear a mask all the time.

Nass Zreika

Delivery driver, Auburn, Sydney

Nasser Zreika, delivery driver for Cake Hero.
Nasser Zreika, delivery driver for Cake Hero: ‘I feel for all the people who have lost their jobs.’ Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

I deliver cakes and desserts with Cake Hero to people’s homes all over Sydney, and it’s really stepped up during lockdown. I just think it’s satisfying to deliver desserts to people during this time. I know what it’s like to be stuck at home and not be able to get the things you like, so it’s nice to help out in that way and make someone’s day.

I don’t really get nervous when I deliver. Everyone has been social distancing, and we wear our masks and do contactless delivery, so I feel pretty safe so far.

But Covid is always in the back of our minds, and I’m always at least a little worried. But we’re doing our best to keep safe; we do what we can to protect ourselves.

Personally, I don’t mind the lockdown too much. Obviously it’s been very hard on people who can’t work and have to support their families. I feel for all the people who have lost their jobs, to go from a certain amount of money to nothing for so long is very tough.

And I think that’s where the government could be doing more to support people, it’s not easy to have no income at all. You still need to provide for your family, pay for food and rent, if they can help with that, things would be better.

I know lots of people who are going through that, friends who have been dramatically affected by it, and they’re angry and upset. They feel like they can’t do anything; they feel helpless.

It’s what I’m most worried about, how this is affecting young families who are struggling, to go from living a normal life to living on minimal income is so hard. Some people are better off than others, but we need to think about the people that are really struggling.

It just makes you think about all the things we took for granted before the pandemic. I just really miss socialising with friends, and doing normal things. You really don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

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