Covid cancels celebrations

Ryder Hawkless was disappointed he couldn't celebrate his birthday but family and friends still made it special. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla van Loon

Turning ten is a big milestone for any kid, so when Ryder Hawkless’ mum Michelle promised a big party for his birthday he was thrilled.

Restrictions were still in place last year, meaning Ryder couldn’t really do anything for his birthday.

“He couldn’t have anything last year, so I promised him that this being double digits he could have a big party and celebrate because he couldn’t do much last year,” Ms Hawkless said.

“It’s an important birthday, double digits.”

With everything all ready to go for ten of Ryder’s friends to enjoy a night of laser tag and a family lunch organised for the first time in a year, it was meant to be a great weekend of celebrations.

“Obviously with Covid you don’t get to catch up with family as often as we’d like and we had relatives coming down from Shepparton as well,” Ms Hawkless said.

And then a snap lockdown was announced.

“We were sort of keeping our fingers crossed earlier in the week when the few restrictions had been announced about masks indoors and that.

“We thought surely they can’t put us into another lockdown when people are still recovering from the last snap lockdown in February.”

But sure enough the 5km radius was back in place, there were only five reasons to leave the house again, masks needed indoors and outdoors and back to remote learning.

“The school obviously told the kids on Thursday that they’ll be remote learning again so as soon as [Ryder] got in the car he was really upset, he goes ‘why does this always happen on my birthday, it’s like they know mum’, so we had a few tears,” Ms Hawkless said.

“It’s harder for them to understand and just the whole remote learning thing again, I think it really affects the kids more than people realise.”

Ms Hawkless said she had to try and explain that it was just unfortunate timing that a lockdown fell on Ryder’s birthday.

“He had a few people drop off early birthday presents for him yesterday which was great, so that cheered him up a little bit,” she said.

“His grandparents, they didn’t get to see him because he was at school but they dropped off a gift for him and then when I texted the parents to say unfortunately the laser tag party was cancelled, one of the mums messaged me and said ‘I’m on my way to work, let me drop his present off at your door just so he’s got something when he gets home from school to cheer him up’ which was great.”

Other family members also stopped by to give gifts and cupcakes and sing happy birthday on Thursday night 27 May before Melbourne locked down for seven days.

“He had a really good night after all last night, so it was good.”

Although disappointing, Ms Hawkless has rescheduled the laser tag party for Ryder and the family of four celebrated at home on Monday 31 May for Ryder’s actual birthday.

Not only was it a stressful few days for Ms Hawkless around the birthday cancellation but as a small business owner a lockdown was not ideal.

She and her husband Nathan own Treadworx in Lilydale, a tyre, wheel and suspension business.

“Although we’re lucky enough to be able to stay open because we’re an essential service, Nathan has been dead quiet today because he’s had so many people call and reschedule.”

“With a 5km radius you can only service so many people, so although we can stay open it still impacts us quite a lot.”

Ms Hawkless said people and businesses can’t keep living like this.

“It’s kind of living in limbo, you want to make plans but then you feel like you can’t,” she said.

On their fifteenth wedding anniversary in February the same thing happened, they spontaneously booked a weekend away and the snap lockdown came into effect on the Friday.

“So even last minute plans it’s hard to plan because you’re constantly in this limbo, I get being cautious but I feel like they need to be doing something other than lockdown because I’m not sure business can cope much more.”