Famous Hollywood hero John Rambo claimed that ‘to survive war, you have to become war’.
How is someone isolated?
Melburnians will all have different answers to how they survived the longest lockdown in the world – a war within themselves.
For now, the isolation is over.
But not for everyone. Friday was not so much ‘freedom day’, but ‘a small step to become a normal day again’.
People enjoy a cup of coffee at a cafe on Lygon Street in Carlton on Friday after endured the longest lockdown on Earth
Melburnians flocked to barbers and hairdressers as fast as they could on Friday, with wait times of up to four hours at some barber shops in the city
Dine-in was back on Lygon Street in Carlton after 77 days of takeaway in the latest lockdown
Melbourne’s CBD returns to what has become its ‘Covid-normal’ status over the past 18 months
As the sun rose spectacularly, many young Melburnians would have slept in a well-deserved hangover.
Victoria officially lifted her restraining order at 11:59pm on Thursday after the beleaguered state exceeded its 70 percent Covid vaccination target.
Pubs and clubs forced to close for the past 77 days finally opened their doors.
Strict density limits in licensed locations saw lines of people squirming across the road.
But they were together and talked to friends and strangers alike.
It’s something Melbourne was known for in the decades before Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews slammed the door on it and sucked life out of it like a thief in the night.
On Friday morning, the long-suffering cafe owners smiled as they set up tables and chairs in the rocky alleyway along Hardware Lane.
Friday had started in lockdown like any other day.
It was quiet.
For someone who hadn’t been to the city since the start of the pandemic, he might think it all looked a little scary.
This is the new Melbourne. Old Melbourne is dead.
K-mart on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD was one of the few retailers to open on the street
Shoppers grab a bargain from the outdoor racks at a K-mart on Bourke Street on Friday
Thor the cat went for a walk in the Bourke Street Mall on Friday
Salon owner Joey Scandizzo of Joey Scandizzo Salon is working on a client’s hair in Melbourne on Friday
Everywhere in the suburbs you saw people with a mop queuing in the streets for barbers and barbers.
On Hardware Lane, untidy men waited up to four hours to get their locks cut.
And wait, they did.
Sat outside across the road from a cafe that happily served them coffee while others enjoyed a decent breakfast.
Around the corner, on the Bourke Street Mall, the signs of Melbourne’s wretched predicament smack city dwellers in the face.
It’s still very locked up.
Despite people being able to sit in a cafe and pub or wait for a haircut without a mask, Melburnians can’t walk into Myer and buy a pair of jocks.
The mall remains locked in the Covid hell.
Retail stores will remain closed throughout the city.
Melbourne Central, QV, the city hat shop, they’re all stuck in online uncertainty.
Melbourne shows love for Sisto Malaspina who was murdered by a terrorist on Bourke Street, just outside his iconic cafe
Bourke Street Mall on Friday where all stores remained firmly closed despite alleged ‘Freedom Day’
Beautician Ruby Williams (above) works on Brittney Pearson’s lashes Friday at Skin Essentials Beautician in Elwood. While they can open, stores can’t
Barista Maelys can be seen at work Friday at Cafe Chez Mademoiselle in Prahran
Towards Spring Street, a K-mart has opened on the sidewalk to sell $5 items of clothing to city shoppers.
While retailers have been told they can open their doors outside, few seemed to have bothered in Melbourne on Friday.
Down the road, Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar is again serving coffee and large bowls of pasta – and it’s only 10:30.
The cafe was already a Melbourne institution when owner Sisto Malaspina was murdered almost three years ago by a terrorist on Bourke Street just beyond.
On Friday, a woman dressed in a black lace dress placed a bouquet of flowers on a love heart next to a plaque bearing the name Sisto.
Barista Nic Di Sipio, who has worked at Pellegrini’s for 22 years, greeted customers like old friends and gave away free coffee despite months of hardship.
Around the corner, buddies Jeff and Jake were sucking thin cans of Peroni from outside an Italian restaurant.
“We couldn’t get a beer anywhere else,” they told Daily Mail Australia.
It was only 11:30am but even then it’s hard to get a beer in Melbourne.
A bartender makes drinks at 3 Monkeys on Chapel Street in Prahran . on Friday mornings
Melburnians flocked to pubs and clubs after midnight as curfews were lifted
Prahran was teeming with happy drinkers early Friday morning
Melburnians can finally gather for drinks in small numbers
Pubs have been fully booked for weeks, with those lucky enough to get a table limited to six people and two hour limits before being booted back onto the streets.
By lunchtime, city dwellers eat plates of food on ceramic plates, with metal forks and knives, and drink wine from real wine glasses.
It’s a legitimate treat for those lucky enough, or brave enough, to come back from their homes after spending so much time in isolation.
Pubs in Fitzroy filled with desperate drinkers.
In Carlton – Melbourne’s little Italy – Lygon Street buzzed with activity as people returned to the popular eatery.
“It’s good to be serving customers again,” cafe workers told Daily Mail Australia.
On Friday, Mr Andrews infuriated the Melburnians with a tacky tweet praising the Victorians for their efforts to get out of lockdown.
“I’m not trying to sound like some slack dad, but I’m proud, damn proud of this state,” he tweeted.
The Rainbow in Fitzroy served beer again on Friday after months of lockdown
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews has already started a day out of lockdown with babies and on his way to the next election
Melbourne men were happy to finally get a haircut after months in lockdown
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar was finally able to open its doors to customers in Melbourne’s CBD
On the street, his comments inspired reactions that were too rude for publication.
While Melburnians can now move freely through the metropolitan region, they cannot enter regional Victoria, despite interstate travelers being able to.
“I just want to see my parents again,” one man told the Daily Mail Australia. “There’s a lot of suffering out there thanks to these demented creatures.”
A quick poll by Daily Mail Australia readers on Thursday found that 81 percent of them (329) did not think this would be Melbourne’s last lockdown, despite the Prime Minister’s assurances.
Victoria’s reopening comes as the state recorded 2,189 new cases abroad and 16 deaths in the 24 hours to Friday.
While Mr Andrews started a positive media frenzy on Friday, allowing photographers to see him hugging a baby, true freedom for Victorians will not come for weeks to come.
Even at 80 percent vaccination coverage, the density restrictions and mask wearing will remain.
And the silent war rages on.