Isolation diaries

By Andrew Johnston

Riv sports writer ANDREW JOHNSTON has joined the legions of home workers as coronavirus spreads across the world. He filed this account of his journey back to Tasmania and life in his four-bedroom cell

IT’S hard to know who is getting the short end of that proverbial stick – Milo, Tilly and Albus (the family mutts) or me.

I’m sitting at the dining room table.


Looking longingly out the window to the world beyond.

My canine cobbers are sitting on the lawn.


Looking longingly up at me, in the window, and envying the world within.

They want to get in; but would probably settle for me going out to them.

And I want to get out; before I go stir crazy.

Even though this is barely my first of 14 days of mandatory self-isolation. That is the minimum sentence for anyone entering Tasmania as part of the increasingly draconian demands placed on us all.

Yes, you didn’t miss it did you?

Yes, I am in Tassie.

Heading home to Launceston this week as the Riverine Herald’s editorial department was relocated to working off-site.

One day.

I am already bored, already bursting to get out; this must be what they say is going stir crazy.

I have a minimum of 13 days to go. I am even toying with the idea of carving the days into the dining table to help get me through the stultifying silence (broken only by the barking complaints of one or three dogs.

My car is just metres away; the open road, a tank full of fuel and a last minute dash to the Spirit of Tasmania and Victoria – and freedom – just one short sleep away.

The journey here wasn’t bad – quick to get on, quickly to my room, with limited unsocial distancing in between.

I got to my cabin, hoping for it to be empty, almost assuming I’d be close to the only person travelling, and if I wasn’t that we’d be spread out.

There were two others.

Normally I couldn’t care less – I sleep anywhere – but this is very different to normal circumstances.

I went to reception (still keeping my distance as I did) to ask, even plead, if I could possibly go to an empty one.

Fortunately, they were on top of this as well, and moved me to my own place.

Four beds for one person, not too bad.

Most importantly I was then isolated.

The restaurant were making people sit and stand apart, which I was a big fan of, and provided extra hand sanitising stations.

When reading these measures in the paper, they may seem a little bit extreme.

They aren’t – actually they are quite important.

I don’t worry around sick people normally, it’s not who I am.

But this situation isn’t normal.

It’s not about avoiding getting sick for me; but me avoiding making someone else sick.

Unfortunately, some still aren’t getting the message, and people are getting sick of it – and because of it.

I’m now in isolation, finding small things to amuse myself.

For example, singing the chorus to Mr Brightside is the same time it takes to correctly wash your hands.

It’s not going to be easy, especially since we don’t know how long this is going to last.

But we must make sure we look after each other at this time, show a bit of kindness to your fellow isolators and those still free to go out into the world.

In a conversation with my dad on Tuesday, he put a pretty simple but effective thought to me – every second we get closer to it being over.

Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.

Until then, we will keep working, doing everything we can to get the information to everyone in our twin towns and surrounding communities about what is going on and how it is going to affect you.

And I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears on it all until I get back.

Stay safe everyone.