Many here have become blasé about the reports of Covid-19 escalations reported in countries overseas. New Zealanders have been extremely lucky in this regard, having a government which acted quickly with a shut-down. There were always the nay-sayers, and there are still some, who criticise the border regulations made for New Zealand residents who continue to arrive back home. These regulations have tightened recently, especially concerning the two-week isolation period each returnee has to face, with Covid testing undertaken on the third and eleventh day. But it is not the rules I wish to talk about here, but the way some people try to evade them.
I also wish to mention Australia, and Melbourne in particular. At the beginning of the pandemic in early March, I was expecting two of my grandchildren (image above) to visit but this trip was cancelled because of lockdowns here, and the start of restrictions in Australia. Not every Australian state had the same rules however, which led to confusion as to who should be doing what. They relaxed rules surrounding Covid-19 in Melbourne some weeks back, but some people just didn’t appear to understand the gravity of the situation. Whether this can be put down to sheer ignorance, I cannot fathom, but flaunting guidelines and choosing to gather in crowds regardless of attempts to cease such foolishness has seen a rapid and awful rise in the community-spread of the virus region-wide.
My son, once the original shut-down had lifted, was back working from his city office. A few weeks down the line, and he was required to resume working from home. His children who were back at school were asked to stay home again. They miss their teachers and their friends. Their schooling on-line feels permanent. Their mother is a teacher, and the disruption to her work, her students and her workplace has been immense. Melbournites are not able to be out on the streets without face masks now, and will be fined if found not wearing them. I have a close friend there, whose mother is in a rest home. I can only imagine how worried she and her family must be, with the virus spreading rapidly through these communities and the death-rate rising daily.
I video message my family in Australia, and try to avoid questions about when we might next meet. There is a large family gathering happening here in summer, which they probably won’t be able to attend. I am a busy person, and have many activities to keep me sane, but it doesn’t stop me worrying about my family members who don’t have the freedom of movement that I am fortunate to enjoy in New Zealand. But, we can’t afford to be complacent here. There have been several people in New Zealand too who have escaped from their isolation hotels and blithely entered busy supermarkets for example, risking the health of other shoppers, the workers – causing more stress on Covid-testing services, police involvement, and in turn risking the welfare of the whole population.
We do not wish to have a community spread of Covid in New Zealand, but with the type of behaviour I’ve mentioned above, we carry the thought of that possibility as an unseen weight on our shoulders as we go about our lives.