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”…
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.
Are you a Ken Behren?