Easter is almost here and so, too, an easing of COVID restrictions. From Monday, there'll be no caps on numbers at weddings and funerals, dancing and singing will be back on the agenda,and we'll be able to welcome as many people as we like back into our homes.
After a year of varying restrictions and lockdowns, it's a welcome return of the freedoms we once took for granted. It's also great news for venues such as pubs, which have been operating at limited capacity with mandatory seating.
Masks are no longer mandatory on public transport but remain highly recommended.
Life appears to be getting back to normal. But it's an appearance only, not the beginning of the end of the pandemic but rather the end of the beginning. There is still a mountain to climb.
The vaccine rollout has not been as swift as first promised. Supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been held up in Europe by export bans. The good news is that local production, now approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has begun. That should speed things up considerably.
But are we out of the woods? Well, not really. All it takes is one person with COVID, and not necessarily symptoms, to venture out into the community and trigger a seeding event. We saw exactly that in December, when the Northern Beaches were shut down and Greater Sydney declared a red zone, after someone with COVID went to a bowling club.
Borders were slammed shut, Christmases cancelled, lives thrown into turmoil. Back then, too, we'd eased restrictions and assumed the worst was behind us.
We were open, then we were shut again.
With Australians returning from hot zones in Europe and South America, where mutant strains of coronavirus are wreaking havoc, the risk is always there that the virus will escape hotel quarantine and there will be another seeding event. We've seen it in the past and chances are we'll see it again.
The biggest challenge is complacency. While it's only natural to welcome the easing of restrictions - to sing and cut loose on the dance floor and throw big house parties - it would be wrong to assume we're back to life as we once knew it.
As autumn takes hold and with winter just over the horizon, keeping a lid on COVID will require us all to be vigilant. As we've seen in the northern hemisphere, the pandemic has a nasty habit of returning with more virulence in the colder months.