At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. In uncertain times like these, it is heartwarming to see communities uniting in solidarity, and even song in some cases. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-1, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share the positive stories emerging from the situation as a source of inspiration for people in these challenging times.
Glenda Fryer, Councillor and Lecturer, on the ‘moment New Zealand chooses our Path’
Shared on Saturday 21 March 2020 from Auckland, New Zealand
As I write this our Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has just spoken ‘to the nation’ (see below) at midday Saturday to say we are at alert ‘level 2’ of four levels. All of the 53 ‘positive’ cases, apart from two cases, are overseas travel related. In 2 new cases today “community contagion can’t be ruled out”.
Shops, restaurants and bars are still all open, although there has been some ‘panic buying’ in supermarkets. Garden Centres are getting a rush on winter vegetable plants… which refreshingly means more home gardening by families.
Only two schools are closed due to specific ‘possible’ cases, although the University of Auckland has just closed classes and put learning online, and the Mayor yesterday announced closing all Art Galleries and performance theatres, libraries, swimming pools and recreation centres. I’ll have to do my ‘get fit’ classes myself at home!
There are certainly less people on the road driving, with more people working from home. Rush hour isn’t a rush anymore.
“I feel we in New Zealand are savouring our ‘flattening of the curve’ or the ‘calm before the storm’.”
With the quick border controls the Government brought in, and the substantial financial packages for small-medium businesses and workers and contractors who find they are laid off. Beneficiaries received comfort too with more money in their pocket…$65 dollars a week until the end of September ($40 of this are a ‘winter energy payment’).
There are no NZ deaths so far and from what I gather, only a few of these 53 are in hospital; most are self-isolating at home.
The main challenges will be when community contagion is detected, more clamp down occurs. And people lose their jobs and stop paying bills. While the Government assistance will help for a while, medium term uncertainty will abound. Also some kiwis have family stuck in far flung cities who were unable to get a flight before flights stopped. Air New Zealand has been loaned $900 million dollars so they can keep flying (the Governments owns 52% of the airline), and I understand there are plans being worked through to bring them home where they want to return. But the Government has just today warned kiwis not to take domestic holidays….so even internal flights will be at a minimum.
Most suburban and rural communities have their own Facebook site, that are well curated, and which until now have mainly been for lost/found animals, and free furniture and goods. I am part of four and they’ve all have wonderful souls offering to visit them and chat (at a distance) and get groceries.
Yesterday a Fox Glacier pilot took an overseas couple for a flight and they revealed they’d only been in NZ for two days. They hadn’t self-isolated as they had promised, so he alerted Police. When they landed the Police were waiting for them.
Unlike Europe, New Zealand is just over its very dry summer….and winter is coming… but we feel lucky to have a very competent Prime Minister and Government to steer us through the coming 12-18 months ahead.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the nation at midday Saturday 21st March, to confirm the nation’s move to ‘Level 2’ COVID Response. She has also held special Coronovirus Press Conferences for Children.
Her husband thanked New Zealanders via Twitter for their expressions of support in looking after their baby daughter Neve.