Life in lockdown has been tough for many Australians.
But compared to other parts of the world, we have been much better off.
Highlander Ben Quirico was over in Italy on exchange earlier this year when the Covid pandemic broke out.
Here he shares his experience of what life was like over there at the time:
I was on university exchange in Torino, which is in the north of Italy in the Piemonte region.
I arrived there in early February which was when things began being locked down.
At first it was just universities and schools but by March it was almost all businesses and shops with the exception of essential businesses such as groceries and pharmacies.
You were only allowed to leave your house for exercise and essential shopping.
Police would patrol the streets and randomly stop people and question them on where they were going and what they were doing.
I would try and walk every morning and evening around the city and I was stopped on numerous occasions and questioned on where I was going.
You could also only venture around your neighborhood, so if you were found to be too far from home you risked being charged.
Everyone seemed to be very wary of one another and you could feel this sense of angst whenever you passed someone on the sidewalk or came to close to someone in the supermarket.
There was only a limited number of people allowed in the supermarkets at once, so this often meant very long lines and long waits to do your shopping.
It was very weird to see the empty streets and shops and it made the city feel like it was deserted.
At first I thought, and so did everyone else I think, that the lockdown would just be temporary and [everything would] be back open in a few weeks time.
Because of this, I think at first everyone was happy to comply and line up outside the supermarket and stay at home.
But the lockdown just kept being extended and quickly you could sense people were starting to get restless. At the supermarkets, people would start to argue with the security guards about lining up outside, and most evenings people took to their balconies to sing and play music.
The Italians live outdoors, they are very social, so to say you need to stay at home all day was torture.
During this time, I also had three university friends test positive for the virus in Torino.
They all had very mild headaches and sore throats and were all taken to a military facility near Torino to recover and isolate.
This did make me a little nervous, but I knew they were all fine and just had mild flu symptoms which subsided after a few days.
Soon after I became sick with flu-like symptoms, however the medical advice I received was that because I did not have a cough and was relatively well, I did not need a test and was told to isolate at home until my symptoms subsided.
At this stage the hospitals were under significant stress and I think they were just telling people with mild symptoms to stay home and isolate if they were well enough to do so, to avoid clogging up the already overwhelmed hospital system.
After a week my symptoms subsided and I recovered, but I relied heavily on my Italian flatmate during that time.
I was very lucky to have a great flatmate who did all my shopping for me while I was sick, but it made me realise that some people wouldn't have had that support and would be feeling very isolated and lonely during this time.
Towards the end of March, nearing four weeks of full lockdown, and with the cases growing each day, I decided it was best if I returned to Australia and continued my studies back in Sydney.
By this stage, most major airlines had suspended flights into Italy so I had to fly across to Munich in Germany in order to fly on to Sydney.
Every hour airlines were cutting more and more flights around Europe and new travel restrictions were being put in place which made it very difficult to first of all get to Munich.
After numerous flight cancellations and being refused onto flights due to increasing restrictions, I eventually managed to get onto a flight from Milan to Munich where I was met with a military escort which took me through Munich airport to a holding area for six hours before finally boarding a flight to Sydney.
I received the escort because I was technically not allowed into Germany due to the border closure but because I was getting a connecting flight I was permitted to enter Germany for six hours with a military guard until my flight left later that evening.
It was very surreal to see big international airports, like Milan and Munich, completely empty and almost completely silent.
Once on the plane, there was just as many cabin crew as passengers, so the flight was very relaxed and we all got to know the cabin crew very well.
Although my exchange semester didn't quite go to plan, I did meet some wonderful people and it ultimately made me extremely grateful to live in Australia.
We've been so lucky here to not see the huge amounts of devastation seen in Italy and across Europe and I just hope we continue to stay that way.
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