• The mood in public places and in commutes has become one of suspicion and mistrust. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The mood in public places and in commutes has become one of suspicion and mistrust.
Zoe Victoria

10 Mar 2020 - 12:24 PM  UPDATED 10 Mar 2020 - 12:27 PM

A video surfaced of a woman coughing at a man on a Sydney train.

The video, tweeted by ABC journalist, Andy Park shows a man and a woman arguing about coughing etiquette on what appears to be a quiet carriage. The woman then coughs at the man to which he responds, “Are you serious? Did you just cough at me?”

The video was subsequently picked up by a number of national and international news services, including the BBC. And while much of the response to the video has been amusement and exasperation, it does raise the question of the etiquette of being in a public space during a public health crisis. 

The mood in public places and while commuting has become one of suspicion and mistrust.

On my bus ride to university there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of commuters wearing facemasks while they travel. This is despite advice from NSW Health which maintains that facemasks are not recommended for the general population. 

And commuters are not the only ones who have realised the effect that this mistrust is having.

In my university classes, attendance numbers also appear to have fallen. Lecture halls that are usually packed with students during the early weeks of semester are now only sparsely populated.

In my own household we now have a running joke. Each time anyone in our house sneezes, we’ve swapped the traditional “Bless you” with a cheeky “You can’t do that in public!”

In the middle of a health crisis like the one we find ourselves in, it’s a little irreverent. But as Aussies if we’re going to survive this, we’re going to need a bit of humour.

 Zoe Victoria is a freelance writer. You can follow Zoe on Twitter @Zoe__V 

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