The Age has gone to some lengths during the difficult lockdown months to celebrate our local chefs’ creativeness in adapting to the circumstances we all find ourselves in. I will be rushing to support them and embrace any dining experience that Melbourne can manage as summer comes in. I believe our restaurants will be more than happy to welcome us back, even if they have to compromise a little on the ‘‘flavours and textures’’ they bring out to us as we happily sit under the umbrellas and raise a glass to each other.
Josephine Ben-Tovim, Carlton
Many cities have embraced the casual dining trend
Stephen Downes may not have realised it but the dining scene has changed substantially in recent years. Casual is king at the moment. The number of ‘‘fine dining’’ establishments that went bankrupt before COVID-19 is clear evidence of this. His quip about coq au vin would have had anyone under 50 Googling it to find out what it was.
His query, ‘‘Moreover, where is the space?’’ has no credibility. New York, Paris and Rome have large populations and colder winters than Melbourne or Victoria. Closed roads or inclement weather have not stopped their outdoor restaurants. The future is here now, Dr Downes.
Kevin Ward, Preston
Sharing fine food with family and friends once again
Many of our most notable chefs have international backgrounds and experience in innovative European and Asian cuisine in an extraordinary range of contexts. Tastes that originated in provincial kitchens enjoyed traditionally in outdoor settings of terraced tables under pergolas, using organic produce of the highest quality, are the basis of fine dining.
We look forward to the enhanced experience of dining in a dynamic new CBD and rural Victoria, showcasing picturesque, open spaces flowing out onto roads that are closed off to vehicles, with free parking along nearby streets. In these globally challenging times, our economy will be opening up ready for the long haul. COVID-safe environments will free us to get back to a happy, healthy balance of seeing family and friends, and sharing the enjoyment of fine dining for special occasions.
Marianne Hale, East Malvern
Will all restaurants have a COVID-safe plan?
A restaurateur says ‘‘restaurants are more than capable of perfecting a COVID-safe plan for opening indoors and outdoors and keeping our customers safe’’ (Epicure, 15/9). My experience of indoor dining, back in June, leaves me with health concerns.
One cafe did not bother to record our names and phone numbers. A restaurant sat us adjacent to, and less than 1.5 metres from, two other diners even though there were other empty tables available. We arrived at 8pm. The other two diners arrived at the 6pm session and should have left by 8pm but were there until 8.30pm. Menus were hand-delivered and the hand sanitiser was not near the front door. (We had to ask where it was). Until you dine in a restaurant, you will not know what COVID-safe practices will be enforced. Diners beware.
Gloria Bower, Mitcham
People are voting with their feet: they love al fresco
If Stephen Downes has never ‘‘judged’’ a restaurant outdoors, how is he qualified to arrive at the pretentious conclusion that it is a ‘‘stupid’’ option for the rest of us? As long as the weather is OK, alfresco is a terrific way to eat, and drink, which is why it is very common all over Australia and Europe. It is also why backyard and parkland barbecues are so popular, but maybe he has never been to one of those either.
Ron Reed, Caulfield South
A protective measure
Dining outdoors is an appropriate public health response to a pandemic. There is increasing evidence that indoor environments are more hazardous, especially when crowded, and with everyone talking and where ventilation is poor, the risk of aerosol transmission increases. Large groups of people in small spaces have long been known to facilitate the spread of infectious diseases.
The principles being applied to restaurants could be applied more broadly. Gyms should have windows open, school classes could be held outdoors when feasible or, if indoors, at least with the door open. Physical education classes should be outdoors. And Melburnians should let fresh air into their homes.
Dr Anita White, Kew
An act of aggression
Surely when police are requested to assist with a person who is known to have been waiting 19 hours for treatment for a mental health condition – ‘‘Watchdog to investigate police over use of force’’ (The Age, 16/9) – they would approach the situation with that in mind: anticipate irrational and difficult behaviour and use strategies to diffuse the chaos rather than employ deliberate acts of aggression. This fails the ‘‘reasonableness’’ test; it is a dereliction of duty.
Maxine Hardinge, Clunes
Our mental health crisis
I feel empathy with the family of the man suffering from a mental illness who, due to the lack of beds at the mental health unit at the Northern Hospital, ran off and was harshly treated by the police. My son has waited in emergency at several hospitals for up to 24 hours, hoping for a vacant bed in the mental health unit and has run off. Fortunately he had caring policemen who caught up with him. There is a terrible crisis in the mental health system which needs to be addressed immediately.
Name withheld, Doncaster East
Fruit picking option 1
School leavers who spend a gap year picking fruit could get a discount on their university loans under a plan from a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry (The Age, 16/9). What a great idea, but what about the unemployed? My son has not found a job since he finished year 12 in 2018. When he searches ‘‘fruit picking’’, he finds he needs experience or the ability to drive a tractor. He has no licence and no chance of getting one at the moment. If farmers truly need fruit pickers this summer, and the government is truly interested in helping, it should find a way to get the unemployed without licences from the city to the fruit-picking jobs.
Heather Murtagh, Croydon Hills
Fruit picking option 2
If there is a shortage of people to pick fruit, why don’t we invite those refugees who are currently being detained to do the work, with the offer of full citizenship at the end of the picking season? It would be a win-win for all, and would break the current stalemate.
Robert Preston, McKinnon
Wacko, we’re free at last
The day after playgrounds open, Fawkner Park, South Yarra. I cannot believe the irreverence shown by parents now that they have been granted this long-awaited freedom. Takeaway coffee cups are everywhere, sipped by maskless folk (approximately 50) who are standing and sitting in groups closer than the safe, requested distance, with no regards to the coronavirus, while children clamber on the freshly sanitised play equipment. Come on, do the right thing and stay safe.
Ant Straker, South Yarra
Melburnians on the loose
So a ‘‘ring of steel’’ and hefty fines await Melburnians who try to slip out into regional areas (Editorial, 16/9). I am sorry to burst your bubble but they have already slipped out over the past few weeks. Just ask any local along the Surf Coast, Ocean Grove, etc.
Serge Bobbera, Curlewis
Explain the difference
Why does Daniel Andrews think that visits between friends are more dangerous than those between intimate partners? Is there any medical evidence for the more stringent conditions placed on single households? To take this to its ludicrously logical extreme, would two friends who want to visit one another become less of a risk as soon as they sleep together? I would have thought it would be marginally the other way round.
Mary Jones, Mornington
Mixed views on our rights
Why are people who object to regulations restricting their freedom of movement and compelling them to wear masks not outraged at speed limits (for example) that outlaw driving at 100km/h on a 20km/h street? Or, come to think of it, perhaps they are — and do. Are not both equally limits on their democratic rights?
Joe Rich, Carlton North
So some crowds are OK?
When people cannot protest outdoors, safely distanced from each other, but are free to congregate en masse to purchase groceries at supermarkets, we have slipped ever so precariously past the limits of democracy.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza
Take a break, Daniel
Julie Tullberg (Comment, 16/9) is right. The Premier would show us a stronger government if he disappeared for a week and let his deputy do the talking.
Rodney Wetherell, Murrumbeena
A very easy scapegoat
Since Victoria’s second virus wave, there have been even bigger second waves in the United Kingdom, France, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. All obviously Daniel Andrews’ fault. Just ask an ‘‘expert’’ such as Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien.
Graham Dunkley, Gladysdale
The beauty of hindsight
For years, the gospel has been that the private sector can deliver services better and more cheaply than a government enterprise. It is fascinating that the state opposition and the usual shock jocks are now criticising the engagement of a security firm instead of the military to monitor Melbourne’s quarantine locations.
One can only wonder what the opposition would have done had it been the one to make the decision back in those uncertain first days. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, of course. Or is this a sign that the ‘‘small government’’ enthusiasts are having second thoughts?
Ray Brindle, Malmsbury
The brilliant ‘wisdom’…
When the President of the United States says ‘‘I don’t think science knows actually’’ when discussing the role of climate change in bushfires (World, 16/9), I do not know whether to laugh, cry or be absolutely terrified. Is all science ‘‘fake news’’ when Donald Trump does not like what it reveals?https://www.theage.com.au/world/trump-labelled-climate-arsonist-by-biden-20200915-p55vto.html
Kim Alexander, Richmond
…and ‘genius’ of Trump
Who is better qualified to say ‘‘I don’t think science knows’’ and the planet ‘‘will start getting cooler’’ than the man who discovered the cure for COVID-19?
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
The very high cost of gas
Affordable gas, Angus Taylor (Opinion, 16/9)? I have just paid my latest gas bill and it took all of my fortnightly part-aged pension to do so. But, more important, are the concerns of environmental bodies as we face a future energy plan for Australia dependant on methane-emitting, gas-fired power stations.
Pat Anderson, Airport West
A bipartisan disgrace
The only thing more mind-bogglingly idiotic than Scott Morrison’s proposal for a ‘‘gas-led recovery’’ is Labor’s tacit agreement. Not only do we desperately need a new government, we desperately need a new opposition.
Charles Shepherd, Brighton
Expensive fossil fuel
Can somebody please tell Scott Morrison and the Coalition that gas is a fossil fuel and that it is a more expensive source of power than wind or solar. If they listened to the scientists, not the fossil fuel lobby, they would know that.
Des O’Shea, Wyndham Vale
We need to find the gas
Gas-powered electricity and/or hydro generation is currently critical as a component in Australia’s major electricity grids. The reason: to provide instantaneous, large-scale electricity supply backup to grids being increasingly supplied by the variable power generation of renewables, photovoltaics and wind. And this situation will be the case until technology and/or massive-scale electricity storage facilities provide a solution.
So, as the federal government and many experts say, in the foreseeable future there will be a need for probably a small number of carefully sized and located, major gas-powered electricity generators to stabilise and make reliable our major electricity grids.
David Wright, Albert Park
Our city is paying the price
Melbourne’s long run of apparent prosperity has depended heavily on migrants and students, casual workers and their exploitation, and the subversion of our regulators and standards in international education, technical training, construction, environment, public agencies, gambling, town planning, aged care and foreign investment. In sum, we have been living a false economy. We are now paying up in billions, with billions more to be paid by the next generations.
Don Townsend, St Kilda
Voting by mail, again
Laurie Vaughan from Bairnsdale asks: ‘‘With many local papers now closed, how do we know when the local elections are to be held?’’ (Letters, 16/9). Our local paper, The Bairnsdale Advertiser (such as it is) still operates. Council elections will be held by post, as they have for the 10-plus years I have lived here.
Heather Butler, Bairnsdale
If the Mornington Peninsula is part of metropolitan Melbourne (The Age, 16/9), why is my local fire brigade an all-volunteer CFA unit? And why, on my rates, am I paying the country fire services levy, which is higher than the metropolitan levy?
Paul Wilcock, Blairgowrie
AND ANOTHER THING
I suppose Morrison will enter parliament holding a gas cylinder instead of a lump of coal.
Merilyn Tabor, Point Lonsdale
Transitioning power generation from coal to gas: one step forward and two steps back.
Francis Bainbridge, Fitzroy North
Someone should whisper to Trump: California’s nine national parks are controlled by the federal Department of the Interior.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
Five months on, the silence as to when families can visit residents in aged care facilities is deafening.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South
With its incompetence and lying, Labor got us into this mess. It needs to get us out of it. Quickly.
Brian Harris, Mount Eliza
Dan battles the naysayers and case numbers daily, with uwavering strength. My superhero.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield
Andrews won’t make available for checking and debate the modelling underpinning his road map. A case of Dan’s facts?
Stephen Minns, South Yarra
Can I blame Dan for my COVID-19 hip span and clothes shrinkage?
Kerry Bergin, Abbotsford
Conservatives are upset with the Victorian government because it’s being too … conservative.
Ian Abbey, Park Orchards
Sent a parcel from Sorrento, 11.30am on Monday. Arrived at Beecroft, NSW at 11am on Tuesday. Where is the problem?
Susan Leeming, Portsea
Spot on, Cathy Wilcox (Letters, 16/9) – a perceptive and compelling cartoon.
Wendy Logan, Croydon North
“But no matter how far or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home’’. Bring them home, Qantas.
Peter FitzGibbon, Inverloch
Australians returning from overseas could be quarantined at ADF bases.
Andrew Gemmell, Glenroy