Santa doesn’t stand a hope of understanding the COVID rules in Australia this Christmas.
And if our state premiers and chief health officers had the children of the nation at heart, they’d work closer together to understand an international pandemic warrants a national response.
The best advice for Santa and his sleigh would be to fly directly into Queensland, because it appears if you are rich and famous you can escape quarantine in a hotel room with no open windows and no fresh air breaks.
So far defence force personnel, consular officials, flight crews, entertainers like Danni Minogue and sportspeople are among dozens who have been granted exemption from hotel quarantine. Santa should go to the head of that queue.
If he comes into Queensland, from NSW, expect delays. The constant bickering between Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian will almost definitely mean he’ll be stopped at the border, and perhaps even turned around because he’ll have the wrong form.
And the chances of that being resolved on a public holiday are so low, children can expect to be disappointed as voters are in both states.
In Victoria, thanks to taxpayer largesse and an attempt to help the tourism industry, Santa might not be able to find the children of 40,000 locals who will be given $200 to head off to visit regions around the State.
But with another day of zero cases of coronavirus – either locally acquired or from overseas arrivals – no-one in Australia begrudges Victorians a Christmas stocking holiday voucher.
Of course, the real Christmas present is in the hands of Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who has just on Thursday lifted the Boxing Day cricket match spectator cap to 30,000.
Given the number of Victorians arriving at Brisbane airport, that might mean most of those left behind will be granted a seat.
For Victorians venturing north, it’s worth knowing that while Queensland has been spared much of the heartache elsewhere, the inconsistencies in the rules of what you can and can’t do take some time to understand.
If you’re planning a Christmas lunch, you can have 50 people gather at your home in Queensland, compared to only 30 in Victoria. But the restrictions are more relaxed on weddings and funerals in Victoria; in Queensland they remain capped at 200.
You still can’t, in many cases, attend your child or grandchild’s school graduation in the northern state. In fact, despite the coronavirus having the least impact on school children, the consequences have been huge.
Formals and graduate ceremonies have been cancelled, parents banned from prize assemblies and even last week’s annual schoolies’ week was cancelled – although, as you’d expect, students found a way around that.
At least we can now dance, but if you are visiting from NSW or Victoria, bring a measuring tape. One person per two square metres is allowed. And it was made clear on Wednesday we are now able to dance with someone we’ve only met that night.
Fortunately, there is no dancing at some of our big shopping centres where Christmas hunters were yesterday packed into stores, like sardines.
Seniors are allowed back into leagues clubs in Queensland and lion dancing is now permitted there too – although the leagues clubs are more for the NRL crowd than those who live for the AFL. But if you are visiting for a sporting match, the rule seems to be ‘the more the merrier’.
But on the flip side, the fresh air breaks, for those in quarantine in Queensland, have now been wound back.
Of course rules between states need to differ, in response to acquired cases. But where is the communication between states? Where is any sign they are working together, as residents holiday between states?
Why is there a difference in how CHOs see funerals and wedding caps, for example?
So far, this pandemic has been managed within state borders, allowing Daniel Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk to act with the welfare of their own in mind.
That now has to change, and our leaders need to look beyond their own borders to where their residents are travelling.
At the very least, they need to work together to develop a single set of rules and regulations that we can all understand, and take into 2021 – around limits and vaccine priorities and external school assessments and airports and visiting family.
Many families, living between states, depend on it. Students, denied graduations and other rites of passage, depend on it. Our health depends on it.
And Santa won’t stand a chance of delivering presents on time, if he has to negotiate six different sets of rules, run by six different leaders, in a nation that should be supporting each other.