Lockdown in New Zealand

Lockdown in New Zealand

  • Posted by Stefan
  • On 13. April 2021

Kindly submitted by Rachel Landon-Lane

Part of our weekly routine during this lockdown has been going to the supermarket on a Tuesday.  We have the queuing routine, hand sanitizer and wiped-down trolley handles as I imagine you do, but we can both go in together, whereas in larger cities the staff are strict about customers shopping singly.  New Zealand had the same panic buyers of toilet paper when the lockdown was announced, but it was quite unnecessary as our factories kept producing it. We did have a shortage of flour for a week.  Anxious New Zealand mothers were the main culprits in clearing the supermarket shelves of flour in the day before our national lockdown, intending to occupy their children with the almost lost arts of baking, and to make playdough for the tinies!  Colin was rather sniffy, „As if the average New Zealander still knows how to bake!“ Apparently, our flour shortage was owing to the extra demands for 1.5 kilo sized bags and the busy truckers. The domestic market is only 5% of the flour trade, so there were plenty of 20 kg bags for anyone who wanted them!

When we first ventured out, I thought that I would make us face masks following the no-sew method shown on YouTube.  Well, no matter how I folded and loosened the fabric, the two hair elastics on either side really hurt my ears.  Colin wandered off and came back wearing an airline sleep mask over his nose and mouth, upside down!  How clever was that?  Plus, he had a range of colours for me to choose from.  So that’s what we wore to the supermarket.  Possibly if we had met anyone we knew, they wouldn’t have wanted to know us.

Colin exited from Dubai before his contract finished, as did the two British women on his team. They were doing desk work, writing a new evaluation framework, not visiting schools, and the Ministry of Education paid them to finish the job working from home.  So, during his 14-day isolation after arriving back here, Colin was quite busy.  Working from home as a team sounds like video conferencing and so on, but it was quite different.  The team live in three different time zones, so when Colin was getting up in the morning, the Brits were thinking about dinner and going to bed, and the Emirati team members were fast asleep.  When they awoke, their emails and tech queries would start coming in during our afternoon, then the Brits would wake up and begin their email exchange when Colin felt that a day’s work had been done.  Each working day could spread over 20 hours.

We are very lucky to be quite comfortable during this time of being confined to home.  No business to run or jobs to lose.  We are healthy and have no young children to keep entertained or nag about schoolwork, nor frail and aged parents.  And, of course, we have each other.  The weather is still sunny and mild, and I have done such a lot of work in the garden.  I realise that when I stopped working for money to concentrate on the garden, I filled up a lot of time with various activities and still let the weeds overrun the place.

I have now finished my gardening for the day, pulling out clumps of tall grass next to a reasonably attractive river stone and succulent garden, then strimming over the area.  It is too sloping and rough for a mower.  After getting changed out of work clothes, I drove into a peach-coloured sunset to the nearest suburb to leave our rubbish bag.  Rubbish collection services don’t extend to us ratepayers in the countryside.  Driving home, my aching back and hands demanded a soothing glass of wine, but Colin had made tea, so that is what I am supping now.