Well, bugger. We knew delta variant was likely to ‘get in’ to New Zealand, we knew that a rapid lockdown was the almost guaranteed result, but knowing the punch is coming doesn’t seem to mean that your stomach does hurt when fist and gut collide.
I’m back to taking comfort from the mountains – lucky me (got to remember to count one’s blessings as well as breathing deeply). I made a mad dash for Gibbston yesterday afternoon, actually I was coming home yesterday from Christchurch anyhow but it started to feel like a mad dash as the news rolled in from shortly after I left Christchurch. I can always find something in the weather and mountains that reflects my mood and lifts it up a notch. We had some Australians staying for three weeks in our barn and the young woman insisted her partner lock the door and sleep with a hatchet under the bed. No hatchets for me – the country feels like a very safe place to be, both in general, and in this particular place. And I have eight chickens to protect me.
Chris is in Christchurch because his plan was to return on Saturday…we will see how plans play out. He had to do his mad dash across Christchurch with my mother, who was visiting us while we stayed there. Her retirement village was doing its lockdown thing and Mum was keen to be back in her own place. The streets of Christchurch were full of cars and the queues were spilling out of the supermarkets. I guess Twizel is underpopulated, because when I went to the supermarket there at 4.30pm it was pretty empty.
There seems to be general national belief in a short lockdown, with the hope held out that only 3 days will be necessary for most of the country. To people in other countries, locking the country down at the detection of a single case might seem excessive, but New Zealand has been watching what happened in Sydney, with infections still out of control weeks later after a softer initial lockdown. By this morning 4 further cases were reported (all related to the initial case), including one who is a nurse at Auckland Hospital. These reinforced the feeling that the move was right.
Next we collectively hold our breaths, again, in a way I don’t think we have since March 2020. We thought of Auckland through its four extra lockdowns, but there is a different sort of collective when the whole country is involved. We will go back to paying attention to media briefings every day (or more often), waiting to see how many cases appear, guessing how long lockdown might last, and hoping that we can control spread of COVID-19 once again in a way that few other countries have managed. What we also need is the vaccine rollout to continue, as the critical arm of COVID-19 management that is currently weak.
However, whatever happens, we will have had over a year of a type of freedom experienced by few other countries through this pandemic.
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