Be a Ken Behren

After over a year without a local covid case, Canberra (the Australian Capital Territory) is in covid lockdown. On Thursday the 12th August the “when it happens” (which we’d all been walking around saying for months), happened. We had our first positive covid case. 4 hours later we were in strict lockdown (and still are).

Since then we’ve had about 130 positive cases, and tens of thousands in quarantine (at one point, 1 in 20 people were in quarantine). Quarantine is different to lockdown – when in quarantine you cannot leave your residence for any reason unless directed to get a covid test. Lockdown allows you to leave your place of residence for 1 hour of exercise, essential healthcare, essential groceries, essential work.

I am an essential worker (working at an essential allied healthcare business), so I have been going to work. The Hub is also an essential worker, but his place of work split the teams into two, so week on, week off (if someone gets covid they still have people who can work). The Barbarians are home schooling for at least the rest of this term (another month) regardless of lockdown status.

I know there have been rather negative reports overseas about Australia’s lockdowns… but what you may not hear is that the majority of Aussies, while we don’t like lockdowns, are happy to do the right thing and stop the spread of Delta covid. In fact, in Canberra we’ve well and truly maintained our sense of humour.

Every day we get a press conference, briefing us on what the state of play has been for the previous 24 hours and any other covid relevant news for our territory. Friday, August 13 (our ifrst full day of lockdown) started off just like any other day for Mitch Bowey. The 34-year-old from Sydney was working in his role at a captioning company, spending his day transcribing spoken English into subtitles. But by the end of his shift, a legend had been born. His name: Ken Behrens. Mitch missed a typo in the voice-to-text software which translated Canberrans to “Ken Behrens”…

Chief Minister Andrew Barr thanking Ken Behrens

Canberrans embraced this faux pas and Ken Behrens has taken on a life of “his” own. The Canberra Raiders NRL (national rugby league) team changed their name on social media to Ken Behren Raiders, merchandise — including T-shirts reading ‘We are all Ken Behrens’ — sprung up overnight, ACT Policing posted about Ken Behrens’s compliance with restrictions – and even the Check In CBR app was across the latest territory-wide joke.

In fact, Ken Behrens fast became the hero Canberra needed. A local brewery has a Ken Behrens beer, there is merchandise (the sale of which goes to a local charity, OzHarvest), even a Ken Behrens club to help support local creatives with profits going to charity. There’s a good chance Ken Behrens is here to stay…

Of course, the local paper scoured the world and managed to track down the “real” Ken Behren. He’s a US-born, Madagascar-based biologist, wildlife photographer and field naturalist who has, no doubt, been inexplicably pestered by Canberra journalists wanting to find the living, breathing version of our Lockdown 2.0 Hero.

“Becoming a sudden viral sensation in Canberra is a pretty hilarious experience. You’re welcome Australia. You’re welcome,” he wrote.

We all need to be like Ken Behren

Are you a Ken Behren?

15 comments on “Be a Ken Behren

  1. I love it! If Behren was an actual surname I guess there had to be a Ken somewhere. He must be amused!

    On Twitter, there was a whole business when someone abused a Peter Dutton, who turned out to be a nice American popcorn salesman with a lovely wife and a baby daughter. After apologies someone asked him if he would mind being our PM. Many jokes followed, ending up with the hashtag #Peoole’sPrimeMinister. The nice Mr Dutton was VERY amused.

    • I vaguely remember the Dutton twitter saga. I believe the real Ken was rather puzzled but saw the humour in it.

  2. Giggling Fattie

    August 30, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    LOL this is hilarious! I love it!

    And I also love how quickly you were put into lockdown and that you are staying safe. We are entering what they have been calling our “fourth wave” which seems unreal! The case sounds are rising and it’s mostly among the unvaccinated and those going into hospitals are also unvaccinated. Even though the vaccinated still can catch Covid, and it’s most likely the Delta Variant.

    I start work today as an essential worker. Before I could say that I was an essential worker as a teacher but my class transferred very quickly to the online platform. But my new school, because of the type of students, will stay open even if the public schools close. If we are directed by the province/city to close we have to of course, but we will stay open as long and as much as possible. I have bought filters for inside my masks and will be trying them out today for the first time. None of my masks have pockets in them but I use a bracket to help keep the mask off my mouth so I’m hoping it will keep the filter in place. If not, I might just have to do some quick alterations to some of my masks to create a little pocket or something.

    I hope your lockdown ends soon!

    • Lockdown has been extended until 17th Sept, but they are aiming for 0 infectious in the community, so we were totally expecting it to happen. And same here – people in hospital haven’t been vaccinated.

  3. This is the type of pandemic humour that I love! Yay to all the Ken Behrens!


  4. That is hilarious–Ken Behrens. You-all do have a sense of humor! I’m glad you pointed out that you’re doing well. There are scary videos of police aggressively arresting people without masks, fining them, such as that. I’m glad to hear that is simply the media.

    • The people being arrested deserve it – like 5 guys who had all tested positive to covid, going out in public not wearing masks (when under stay-at-home directives). I mean, seriously! The police then had to escort them home putting their own health at risk.

      And the protesters who have been arrested all got aggressive first – throwing things at the police, spitting at them etc. If the average person is out without a mask, the police talk to them. In some cases, they issue a warning or a fine (depending on the circumstances).

      For some reason, the overseas media really want to beat up Australia. All the good things happening (or fun things, like Ken Behrens) doesn’t seem to make it overseas.

  5. What a cute story to come out of lockdown! I admire the commitment. We definitely need more Ken Behrens in the states.

  6. Too funny. I bet the real Ken Behern wondered why the hell he suddenly was trending.

    Just last night we were talking about what “lockdown” meant in Australia. Thanks for explaining. (We in the US have been whining so much about lockdowns and quarantines. I kind of think we deserve what we get for doing so poorly at all of this.)

    • Each state might tweak the rules slightly (eg the distance you are allowed to travel from your house for exercise) but essentially that’s the standard lockdown rule across the country. Because we’re doing well, come Friday they are relaxing the exercise rule from 1 hour to 2 hours, and some more businesses are allowed to have 2 workers on the premises for click and collect or delivery services.

      What are your lockdown and quarantine rules?

  7. I wish we had one., but it is your gain.

    I spent the last two days in the hospital, because of a neck injury. It seemed like they wanted to kill me. Eighteen hours where they refused me any food or water. but that is another story.

    Every other room in the ER was an unvaccinated COVID case. Two of them died, it was such a sad thing.

    • Oh, I’m glad you weren’t there for covid reasons, BF, but I’m sorry you had to be there at all. I hope you’ve recovered full now.

      The cases we have in hospital are unvaccinated as well. Makes me very relieve The Hub and I are vaccinated and the Barbarians are half-way there (it’s only in the last couple of weeks that under 18s could get vaccinated (although under 12s still have nothing approved for them).

      • Naw, they screwed me up worse. You would have to understand how fragmented the American Medical system is, and I’m afraid I would confuse you utterly, if I tried to explain.

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