IN the weeks since Australia's coronavirus lockdown started in earnest on March 23, the abiding image of life here, and in most parts of the world, has been one of shuttered shops, empty offices and deserted streets.
It's a picture that has helped protect this nation from the worst of the coronavirus, but at a cost that has put hundreds of thousands out of work, with millions more kept afloat by the business subsidies of JobKeeper.
Across the weekend, the rush of crowds taking at least some advantage of an easing in restrictions gave a glimpse of the forces that governments must deal with in the months ahead.
As was predicted from the start, the effort to reopen the economy will likely be a backwards and forwards dance between personal and corporate freedoms, and case numbers.
Were Australia the only nation affected, then the near-textbook flattening of the COVID-19 case curve could mean a return to a "business as usual" footing with relatively minor concern.
But with the global coronavirus picture looking worse at the end of last week than at the start of it, the reasons why the World Health Organisation said the virus might never be beaten are becoming increasingly clear.
Until this week, the greatest single-day rise in coronavirus infections came on April 12, with some 99,100 cases added to the Johns Hopkins University global dashboard.
Another peak, of 97,500 cases, arrived on April 24, but both marks were eclipsed on Friday, when 100,200 cases were added to its charts in a single day.
Locally, we are bemoaning the impact on our normal lives, but for many nations, the pandemic is more about mourning the massive daily counts of the dead than it is about a loss of jobs or entertainment - as serious as the cancellation of the Newcastle 500 Supercars race undoubtedly is for all those who love it or run businesses off it.
At the same time, even the hardest hit nations - the United States especially - are pushing hard to reopen their economies before the first wave of COVID-19 infections is under anything like global control.
As depressing as the idea might be, there are no clear answers as far as coronavirus is concerned.
A successful road out will depend very heavily on a vaccine, sensible political leadership and luck.
A trifecta some might think is at long odds to prevail.
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