COVID-19 Update 4 – personal note

by Martin Wisata, Founder of Rocky Trail Entertainment

First of all a huge thanks for all the positive messages to our team. It really means a lot to all of us to hear that we have your support once we start racing again.

As a race organiser – and we are quite the big community out there sharing tips and advice on how to proceed in trying times – it is a big part of our job to predict the future based on the information we currently have, assess risks, take action, communicate and afterwards analyse if we made the right call or if we could have done things better. This is true for things like having to postpone events because of the weather, managing accidents during an event, forecasting long time burn patterns during bush fire season and now getting all the right information about this %$#%ing #$%^!!!^^&&## of a virus.

We recently returned from Austria, I speak Italian and I can do basic math. I also choose to ignore most stories and ‘facts’ floating around facebook and other social media sites. So here is my take on things:

What I saw in Austria

Austria seems to be about 1 week ahead of where we in Australia currently stand in terms of social distancing measures. Staying at home, working from home and only the most important shops and businesses operating has become the new normal over there. My family and friends are all adapting really quickly. There is no shortage of food, toilet paper or medication. I don’t think there will be, neither in Austria nor Australia. Supplying the basics will become our number 1 priority and we will manage that easily. This is why I have plenty of food here at my home for the next 2 weeks but not for the next 2 months. It’s not necessary.

What we learned from Italy

Italy which seems to be about 2 weeks ahead of where we are right now in Australia has no reports of anyone going hungry. This is not a problem there and it is pretty chaotic right now. I don’t believe that the situation in Australia or Austria will become as bad as Italy. The reason is that in Italy the reaction and the measures to curb the situation came very late. They were the first European country with a lot of cases recorded and we in Austria watched and went: ok, maybe it’s time to think about what we need to do here.

From denial to planning ahead

About 3 weeks ago when I was still scheduled to fly to Azerbaijan to teach entrepreneurship at uni we had a chat with my Austrian colleagues at the university in Krems and I said: “Why would I not travel to Baku, just because 2 Tyroleans got sick.” Back then I was still in the denial phase. That phase has come and gone very quickly.

I personally believe that it is now time to prepare for a few weeks maybe even months in quarantine at home. Not so much by stocking up – you will be able to go to the shops and get more supplies, but by mentally getting ready for it. Those measures are necessary so that we can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

It is also extremely important to look after the elderly and more vulnerable people. I have told my 80 year old parents in Austria that it is best now to stay at home and not leave at all. Not even to go to the shops. My cousin will do this for them. If they get sick the risks of something bad happening to them is very high. It is important to be realistic about this. The last time they left home was to bring us to the train station which was over a week ago and the safest place for them in the next few months will be their home. Luckily they have a big garden and summer is coming so things could be worse…

Timeframes

The big question now is the timeframe and here the only indicators we can look at are from China and maybe South Korea who seem to slowly get back to normal. This would suggest around 2-3 months but what this new normal is going to look like is anyone’s guess right now.

In terms of racing I believe that we will be able to put on events in some regions where the first wave of infections has come and gone and where we limit entry numbers as well as have a good look which categories we will run in terms of age groups in order to protect the most vulnerable. As more information becomes available we will be able to make better calls.

Finally it is time to look at the positives

I will be stuck at home with my wonderful wife and my wonderful son. He has a lot of toys to play with, new Bluey episodes are on ABC kids and playing with him is a lot of fun. He is 4 and loves to count and play with numbers. There are plenty of activities one can research on the Internet how to teach him new skills every day.

We have 2 JetBlack home trainers that will go up in the garden where Juliane and I can go for rides together. In Austria riding your bike alone is actually still encouraged as physical exercise keeps you sane – but who am I telling this ­čÖé

Whatsapp, Skype and whatever else you use is a great way to exchange stories, ideas and be social together. If you use it to chat to your neighbour or someone on the other side of the world is irrelevant which is very nice especially for someone who like me who lives in Australia and has most of his family in Austria.

There is also a good chance that this situation will have a positive impact on the climate crisis which can only be a good thing – I know I am really optimistic right now.

Stay positive, don’t stress too much and be strong and calm for the ones around you. It is OK to be emotionally drained at times but don’t let it get to you. We have made it through the bushfire crisis, now we will make it through this one. Concentrate on the things you have control over, not the ones you don’t. Don’t forget to laugh. It’s bad but not that bad.

Martin