For the first time since it began in this country almost 100 years ago, Mother’s Day celebrations for millions of Australians are set to undergo a dramatic change this Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lockdown provisions vary between the states and territories relating to the numbers allowed to “gather” to recognise all the hard work done by mothers throughout the year but health experts all agree on one important proviso.
NO HUGGING. Social distancing, should be practiced, say the experts, to reduce the chances of unwittingly getting the virus from someone who openly has it or is asymptomatic (an absence of symptoms).
In Queensland, from Sunday, groups of five from one household will be able to visit another household. No taking Mum out to a restaurant, but if she lives with you, you can take her out for a picnic.
It opens the way for some mums to have two or more group visits on Mother’s Day such as one group of up to five for breakfast, another group for lunch and a third for dinner, providing, of course, visitors agree to do the catering.
The slight relaxation, of restrictions in time for Mother’s Day are in response to Queenslanders doing a “great job” flattening the curve, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says.
She said restrictions on movements had been gradually relaxed “but we are not out of the virus crisis just yet”.
“If, all of a sudden, we end up with a lot of problems or a lot of cases, then we’d have to rethink,” Dr Young said, adding rules are still in place “because we’re still in a public health emergency”.
“We won’t be where we were pre-COVID, that won’t happen for quite a while down the track, but we’ll gradually see things [progress] towards more normal business,” Dr Young said.
If you’re heading out for any of the allowed activities remember:
“Maintain that 1.5-metre distance, one person per four square metres and wash your hands regularly,” she said.
Families in the most populous states on NSW and Victoria are not as lucky with the state governments refusing to ease public health restrictions for Mother’s Day despite a lull in the number of new coronavirus cases recorded across the country.
The premiers of NSW and Victoria – home to more than half of Australia’s population – are insisting residents adhere to strict social distancing and movement regulations on Sunday.
Households in NSW can receive two adult visitors plus children at any one time.
Gatherings in public of more than two people are still banned.
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has ruled out easing restrictions before Monday.
There is a two-person limit on gatherings inside and outside the home and family member who live apart are not permitted to visit one another.
The same roughly applies in the ACT where households can receive just two adult visitors, plus children, at any one time. Canberrans, however, can visit their mum even if she lives in NSW all the time being mindful of the rules applying across the border.
Tasmania is also restricting visits to households to two people at one time.
The situation is more relaxed in SA, WA and the NT.
In SA, groups of under 10 people are permitted in public and in the home – so long as the four square metres rule per person is followed.
In WA, groups of up to 10 are permitted indoor and outdoor and non-contact recreational activities, including picnics and fishing, are allowed.
A 10-person limit also applies indoors and outdoors as Territorians prepare to open restaurants and pubs with special provisos including alcohol in these premises only being available with food.
The history of Mother’s Day goes back to after the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865 which impacted heavily on mothers across the country as it caused carnage among the country’s males with an estimated 620,000 killed – more than US losses in WW1 and WW2 combined.
In 1870, American writer and women’s rights activist Julia Ward Howe, best known as the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, appealed to women to unite and bring peace throughout the world (later known as the Mother’s Day Proclamation).
It was not until 1924, 98 years ago, following the losses of World War I, that Mother’s Day was first held in Australia.
Sydney woman Janet Heyden started the tradition after becoming concerned for the lonely, forgotten aged mothers at Newington State Hospital where she regularly visited a friend. She successfully campaigned for local schools and businesses to donate gifts to the ladies.
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