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Life in Lock Down: Day 16 – Bad Friday

11 April 2020 15 comments

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April 10: Day 16 of living in lock-down…

And the news is not good. Another death, this time an elderly woman in a rest home. With 44 new cases, a rise from the steadily declining numbers since Monday, the struggle is far from  over.

Friday is Good Friday, but there’s nothing much “good” about it. In normal times the roads would have been clogged with traffic last night and today. Far from it; they appear mostly empty. The Park N Ride in my area usually has between two to four cars each day since lock-down. Today it is empty.

On my way to the highway, I drive past the white motorhome. It’s still parked in position.

The few commercial vehicles I do spot; a light truck, unmarked, carrying firewood; a “Supreme” towing truck (which tailgated me for several kilometres – on an all but empty stretch of highway! Driver of tow-truck, rego, “WE TØW”, you need to learn to keep your distance! Otherwise your next rego plate may be “WE CRSH”);

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–a van marked “Optare”; “Pacific” branded ute; a Hyundai traffic radar van north of Belmont; “First Security” car; “Absolute Control” branded van; 2 ambulances; several recreational bicyclists; a police car heading my opposite way, north, with flashing lights and siren; more bicyclists on the harbour highway south of Petone; a “Mainfreight” truck; an ambulance; a “K9 Explosive Detector Dog” ute;

Commercial traffic on the roads is light; most of the traffic are cars. It’s a fine sunny day; barely any clouds in the sky. People are out and about, walking.At the SH58 interchange traffic is still light; three cars to me rear; one in front.  North of Melling Interchange traffic has thinned to maybe one or two cars in my field of vision. A few families are dotted along the Hutt River, on the stoney banks enjoying the autumn sun; all are well spaced apart. South of the Melling interchange, there were occasions when the highway was utterly empty of traffic.

The harbour was beautifully calm with plenty of sun shining over Wellington City;

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In normal times this would be cause for joy. But these are not normal times and fine weather bring out people onto the roads, footpaths, beaches, parks, etc. Not good places to be in times of pandemic.

It was reassuring that not one single recreational boat (or any other craft) could be seen on the water.

Approaching the Terrace Tunnel, traffic remained light, with perhaps only half a dozen vehicle behind me and nothing in front. This  is in stark contrast to normal holidays periods and weekend when the approach roads to the tunnel are actually busier than during the working week! The tunnel itself had one car in front and three behind me.

The “Z” service station fuel price board lights were still out; there was light foot traffic on the city footpaths; and car traffic was the lightest I’ve seen it all week.

Oriental Bay parade was busier, with a steady stream of bicyclists and pedestrians, though no one was lying on either the main or smaller beaches in the Bay;

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Evans Bay Parade was equally busy with walkers and pedestrians. Most kept to the two metre rule. A few did not.

A police car passed me on this stretch of road. That would be the only police seen until around 3 to 4pm. In Hataitai, these two police vehicles were seen parked side-by-side. The constables appeared to be taking a break; chatting with a young lady leaning on one car window (waaaay closer than 2 metres, folks!); or checking their devices;

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[Images have been redacted for privacy/occupational reasons.]

Perhaps one of the most bizarre things seen during this lock-down crisis is this sign on a “Four Square” shop (location not to be disclosed). The  white sign states;

“*NOTICE*

Maximum of 10 people allowed in store at a time. Please keep your distance of 2 mtrs from each other, Thanks, […] FourSquare”

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The reason the sign is utterly ridiculous? This particular “Four Square” is little bigger than your average Dairy. The aisles are hardly a metre apart and the small size of the store would make it near-impossible for ten people to keep a 2-metre distance.

This is why when businesses demand to open to the public, and promise – hand-on-heart – to implement safety protocols: Do not take them at their word.

If we had acceded to demands from  Universities NZ and Hospitality NZ to continue allowing foreign students to enter Aotearoa, and for bars and restaurants to remain open – while “promising social distancing” – the infection would have most likely spread like wildfire throughout the country.

This government is right to be firm in maintaining the lock-down. Lives depend on how we respond to the contagion.

On the way home in the evening, the city was the most deserted I have ever seen it. Except for street and commercial lighting, and a few vehicles, it was the closest I have ever compared it to a post-apocalypse movie. I spotted one ambulance and later, north of Melling, one police vehicle that had pulled over a late-model sportscar.

Wellingtonians seemed to be heeding the call to stay home and not venture out.

More than ever, we must all maintain the safety protocols; wash hands; maintain safe distance; restrict your “bubble”; don’t try to ‘cheat’. As infectious disease epidemiologist, Jonathan Smith, warned us;

The enemy we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not an opinion. This is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. Stay strong and in solidarity knowing that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people continue getting sick and dying.

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This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices. As this epidemic continues, it will be easy to be drawn to the idea that what we are doing isn’t working and we may feel compelled to “cheat” with unnecessary breaches of social distancing measures.

Which is why the community must do it’s bit; the Police have to come down hard on those who flout the rules; and the business lobby (and their National Party allies) stops pressuring the government to loosen the lock-down rules. The lock-down is porous enough as it is.

In fact, I totally concur with Martyn Bradbury’s call to extend the lock down to six weeks;

The health math demands 6 weeks. Incubation time of the virus is 14 days, but there are cases where it has been 19 days and 27 days, so we went into lockdown on Wednesday 25th meaning the majority of infections will appear by April 8th in the second week of the 4 week lockdown, but we need to KNOW the damned virus has been completely eradicated, so that takes us out to April 21st for the last possible incubation date and we would need at least 2 weeks of no new infections to know the sacrifice had been worth it.

[…]

Death Cult Capitalists, Matthew Hooton, Mike Hosking & Gareth Morgan are all crying out that 30 000 deaths is acceptable as long as neoliberalism can get back to work so the stress on Jacinda to lift the lockdown at the end of the 4 weeks is building, regardless of the above public health math.

The simple truth is that Jacinda must extend the 4 weeks to 6 weeks because if we come back at 4 weeks and the bloody thing keeps spreading, she will get blamed.

It gives me no pleasure to advocate for an extension. I’m now working six days a week (to minimise the number of people required to work at a given work-place) and I miss my partner who I haven’t see for over three weeks. (We have our separate homes and “bubbles”.)

But it’s either extending the lock-down or ending it prematurely. The virus does not respect human being’s arbitrary rules. It thumbs it’s nose at us and our social and legal structures (if covid19 had thumbs and a nose).

And if the Prime were to cave  to pressures from the business lobby, as Martyn Bradbury points out, her political enemies and other sundry armchair experts would blame her for the consequences.

We need to go the distance. If necessary even , extend the distance. Don’t ever forget; we can out-think and out-wit covid19. That is our unique strength.

We just need to use our wits.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,283

Cases in ICU: 4 (2 critical)

Number of deaths: 2

 

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References

RNZ:  Coronavirus – Universities seek travel ban exemption for students

RNZ:  Covid-19 – Hospitality industry asking customers to sign in

Elemental: Hold the Line

Daily Blog:  Why Jacinda MUST keep us locked up for 6 weeks

RNZ: Covid-19 – What happened on Good Friday

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

Life in Lock Down: Day 11

Life in Lock Down: Day 12

Life in Lock Down: Day 13

Life in Lock Down: Day 14

Life in Lock Down: Day 15

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Acknowledgement: Evans

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