Even with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions beginning to ease, some form of social distancing is likely to stay in place for a little while. Settling into this as a kind of new normal is something all of us are still finding challenging.
This article has been sponsored by CUA.
As a result, many people and small businesses are doing it tough, particularly when the communities they often rely on aren't able to support them as they normally would.
With social distancing in mind, here are four ways you can help.
When restrictions kicked in, many businesses were forced to adapt or enter a state of hibernation. Those that continued to operate have had to change their business models dramatically, with bars and cafes offering takeaway only options or converting into makeshift convenience stores to sell essentials.
Support these businesses by purchasing goods from them instead of the big supermarkets where you can. This also goes for privately owned bottle shops, grocers and other smaller stores.
By buying from your local small businesses, you'll help them weather the restrictions we're all facing, and with the majority of businesses utilising contactless payment methods, you won't need to worry about handling cash, either.
Going out for a nice meal or holiday isn't something we can do right now, but that doesn't mean you can't start planning ahead.
You can start planning holidays or even nights out with some mates at your favourite restaurants for when things get back to normal. As lockdowns begin to ease and we're free to get out and about again, think about how nice it will be to have a list of activities ready to go.
While you certainly shouldn't visit them now, travelling to bushfire-affected areas when it's possible to do so will support the communities really struggling through this pandemic.
Help the most vulnerable
While the majority of Australians who catch COVID-19 will make a full recovery, others aren't as lucky. For those with weakened immune systems and the elderly, the virus can be incredibly deadly, which makes it harder and more dangerous for them to venture outside of the home.
You can support people in these circumstances by offering to pick groceries and other items they might need on their behalf. Some people have even been offering these services via a mail drop, which is a huge help for those who may not have easy access to family or friends.
Be sure to check in with your vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours regularly.
Donate money saved
For those still working from home, not having to commute combined with eating at home can save a lot of money each week. If you have more money than usual and you can afford to part with some of it, donations can help a lot of people doing it tough right now.
There are plenty of great charities that would love to hear from you. To be sure the charity you choose is legitimate, you can search for them on the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission website.
If a financial donation isn't possible, you can gather up old clothes or items to donate once restrictions are eased. While charities like Vinnies aren't accepting donations right now, they'll be happy to take them off your hands as soon as they can.
"Just wait until we're back to normal — we'd be so grateful to receive those donations [then]," National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations chief officer, Omer Soker, told the ABC.
Look out for each other and as always, continue social distancing and washing your hands often.