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Life in Lock Down: Day 13

8 April 2020 2 comments

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April 7: Day 13 of living in lock-down… and unlucky for those who are superstitious. A day when there was a ray of sunshine from an otherwise bleak day of worrying signs.

Today, as RNZ reported;

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield reported 54 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, bringing the total number of cases to 1160. Twelve people are in hospital and four are in intensive care, including one person who is in a critical condition.

Today’s new figure is down from the 67 new cases reported yesterday.

If that downward slip – from 67 new cases yesterday to 54 today – becomes a solid downward trajectory, then god knows it’s been worth it. The damage to our economy; the closure of businesses (some permanently); the loss of jobs; the billions borrowed to keep this country afloat; the likely crippling of our tourism industry; and the effort made by so many people to do the right thing during the four week lock-down…

It is a little thing, but something to hold on to.

Our heroic Prime Minister warned us;

Now is not the time to change any of our behaviours.” – Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, 7 April 2020

Because only after two weeks, irresponsible and supposedly mature adults, are calling for a relaxation of the lock-down.Many of those clamouring voices are from the business sector for whom – apparently – the Dollar trumps people’s lives.

Even while National Party Leader Simon Bridges was calling for tough quarantine measures of travellers arriving in our country, so as not to re-introduce the contagion into our community, his economic development spokesperson, MP Todd McClay, was calling for relaxation of our already porous lock-down shield;

“New Zealanders are doing there bit here, largely across the board the vast, the vast majority of people are respecting these rules. I think if the government says they trust people around self-isolation, that there will be ways for businesses to open up.

I think if you’re a clothing manufacturer, or a small business that’s working from home it can be contactless, you will show that you will adhere to and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules, but we need to be doing everything you can to keep these businesses running.”

National’s inconsistancy of tough border controls and relaxed domestic lock-down will only achieve one thing: breathing life back into the contagion and giving the virus a second chance.

It would undo the last two weeks of sacrifice, for immediate gain.

It must not be allowed to happen.  The government must be allowed to stay the course and the mainstream media must stop amplifying the steady stream of hystrionics from self-interested businesspeople like “Mad Butcher” group chief executive, Michael Morton. When interviewed by RNZ Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson on 7 April, he was unashamedly blunt;

“If you open up and doing 20% of your trade, well, you’re going to lose a significant amount of money.”

Anyone who thinks that businesses could open “and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules” is delusional or feeble-minded. Even in supermarkets like Pak N Save, where aisles are wider than smaller retailers, there are still significant numbers of shoppers who pay little heed to the two-metre social-distancing rule.

Or joggers like this clown, today (7 April) who ran past two women on Oriental Parade – within elbow-touching proximity;

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— despite the fact that Oriental Parade has a ridiculously wide footpath for pedestrians, joggers, and even bicyclists;

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He just couldn’t be bothered maintaining a safe space between himself and the two women. And he’s not alone. This blogger has seen too many other people for whom maintaining  safe “social distancing” is just not a priority. Even Simon Bridges “forgets” to keep to the two-metre rule;

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People not keeping their distance is dangerously common at the supermarkets.

Add to that all the other retailers Todd McClay wants re-opened with added foot-traffic; people not respecting; safe “social distancing” etiquette and we have a recipe for disaster.

You can be assured of one, simple inalienable fact: if Jacinda Ardern and the government were to follow Todd McClay’s and the business community’s demands to re-open businesses, the results would be predictable: a resurgence in infection. People would get sick. People would die.

And people like Todd McClay would blame Jacinda Ardern.

Stay staunch, Ms Ardern. Lives depend on your steadfastness.

Meanwhile, my work day started with my usual drive past the Park’N’Ride  on my street. There were just three cars present. A good start I thought.

Then getting on to the main road and onto the highway, I observed the commercial vehicles on the road around me; a “CMS” van; 5 ambulances; a flat deck light truck carrying stacks of beehives; a skip bin truck; 2 vans bearing the “ZAP!” logo (the driver of one van visibly in uniform, obviously working); a Kiwirail van; 2 “Downer” vans; a “Jina’s” fruit and vege van; a green “Toll” truck; a pest-control van (company name not visible); 3 police cars; an “AA” Road Service ute; “New World” delivery van; a “Rangitikei” free-range chicken van; “Nilfisk” van; a “Kiwi Green” marked van; a “Laser” plumbing van; a “Fulton Hogan” roadworks truck; a “OS” marked van; a “L.G. Anderson truck; a van marked “BBC” (bathroom company); a gravel hauling truck; 2 “JETS” covered trucks; a Mainfreight” truck; a “McAuley’s” container-truck; a “Strait NZ” van; an “Absolute Control” marked van; a white “Caffe L’affare” van; Wellington Regional Council ute; et al.

There were definitely more police cars visible and – worryingly – more ambulances.

The traffic north of Melling Interchange was once again light; three or four cars ahead or to my rear at any given time. Around Kelson, traffic increased to approximately a dozen cars in my immediate vicinity. By the Melling Interchange traffic was the heaviest I’ve seen it in two weeks with around two dozen vehicles around me. By Ngauranga, the “numbers continued to be “heavy” (heavy  compared to the last two weeks). By the time I reached the Terrace Tunnel, traffic had thinned considera=bly to about half of what I had observed further north.

Courtney Place looked “dead”; nil traffic.

At Oriental Bay, people were cautioned not to stay on the beach with lit messages;

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The weather was chilly with a blustery wind so it was unlike anyone would be sunning themselves on the sandy beaches today. A quick glance confirmed my thoughts: no one lounging on the sand.

But there were still plenty of joggers and like the fellow above, not all were showing courtesy by respecting the 2 metre distancing rule.

More worryingly; the Evans Bay Marina Carpark appeared to have even fewer freedom campers’ vehicles than the previous day;

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The campers had clearly “up sticks” and moved on. Aside from international air travel, it is hard to think of a more efficient vector for viral transmission than freedom campers driving around New Zealand; stopping in small towns and larger cities; and passing on their infection.

To paraphrase Peter, Paul and Mary, Where Have All The Freedom Campers Gone? And should anyone be making enquiries? Do the rental companies install GPS trackers in their vehicles? If so, the information gleaned from those devices could be troubling.

Perhaps it is time for “freedom camping” – aka the “low  end” of tourism – to be curtailed.

On the way to Miramar, the fifth police car in a day was parked on the center median strip on Cobham Drive (main route to Wellington Airport). Reassuring to see the Police around. Perhaps they could look into the mysterious Case of The Missing Campers?

Meanwhile, if we thought that Todd McClay; “Mad Butcher” group chief executive, Michael Morton; and other money-hungry nuts were bad enough, the Award for the most insanely irresponsible Person in Aotearoa New Zealand has to go to this prize fool:

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The virus has not yet been eradicated; new infections are still happening; and Seymour wants the lock down lifted before the four weeks is up?! Is this man deranged?

Worse still is this comment from him;

“Every day that we are locked down people are losing money, they’re losing businesses, they’ve got mental health issues that are going to arise.”

Not only is he valuing money over people’s lives – but he is exploiting mental health as a cloak to give legitimacy to his despicable suggestion. In effect he’s saying, “Never mind the risk to others; we want to make money; or else we’ll blame our supposed poor mental health on this government and the PM.”

Cue: sob story on RNZ, Newshub, TVNZ, et al about “depressed” businessman who can’t make money.

Congratulation to  Seymour for hitting rock-bottom. This is about as bad as it gets for a sleazy, opportunistic politician desperate for publicity and votes.

I’m not sure which is worse to be afraid off – the virus or a psycopath masquerading as a Member of Parliament. Maybe they’re related.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,160

Cases in ICU: 4 (1 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

 

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 – What happened on 7 April

TVNZ: Simon Bridges calls on Government to quarantine, test everyone still arriving into NZ

RNZ:  More industry and small businesses could reopen – National

RNZ:  Coronavirus – Mad Butcher CEO claims government decisions hurt butchers

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Simon Bridges admits he ‘should have been further apart’ from supermarket staff in photo shared online

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – New Zealand should consider quitting lockdown early, David Seymour says

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

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

Additional

RNZ:  Covid-19 Pandemic Timeline

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

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in Lock Down: Day 12

7 April 2020 1 comment

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April 6: Day 12 of living in lock-down…

Another day of a near-empty Park N Ride carpark;

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covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

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And another day of near-empty Wellington streets;

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covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

.covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

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Light traffic on the motorway. No apparent increase in volume. Commercial vehicles sighted; a gravel-hauling truck; McAuley’s Transport; a tow-truck; “Dole”-branded truck; container-truck; another container truck, “McAuley’s”; “Downer” flat deck truck; a Hyundai traffic speed-camera van north of Kennedy Good Bridge; a police car at the Melling Interchange; a Waste Management truck; a skip-bin truck; 2 “Kiwirail” utes; 2 “New World” covered trucks; “Mainfreight” truck; “Noel Leeming” truck; an ambulance; “Rescue” ambulance; “EBT” container truck; “Chubb” van; “KAM” double tandem truck; “Super Freight” truck; 2 “Mainfreight” trucks; firefighting appliance; Traffic Management truck; “PTS” container truck; train-replacement bus; firewood truck (empty); “Salvation Army Family Store” truck; a bus with “driver training” illuminated signage; 2 unmarked road-works trucks; an unmarked covered truck; “Red Wolf” security van; “Toll” green truck; “Chemdry” van; ambulance with lights and siren; “Laser” plumbing van; another gravel hauling truck; another ambulance; and a “Chill” branded van. Commercial vehicles passing me on the other side of the road were not always able to be clearly identified.

Traffic north of Lower Hutt remaining light with only two or three  vehicles on the motorway any one time. Approaching Melling Interchange, traffic was near non-existent. Traffic was equally light south of Petone with perhaps three in front and three to my rear. Traffic at Ngauranga was heavier as SH1 and SH2 merged. Even then, there appeared to be around eight in front and eight at behind me. Traffic at the Terrace tunnel was almost nil, one in front, one at back.

The price board at the “Z” service station in Vivian Street was still dark.

Heading to Miramar, it suddenly occurred to me that the Evans Bay Marina Carpark – almost always full with freedom camping vans-  has nearly emptied out. Yet, it was full at the beginning of the lockdown.

It is clear that the occupants have decamped and have moved on. All in the last two weeks.

If this is how “freedom campers” show they are responsible tourists, then we are better off without this low-end part of the tourist industry. The temptation to “hit the road” and enjoy what little remained of their holiday seems to have been too much for them.

At my work, management has implemented a new plan to purchase supplies for clients. It is a good plan (albeit needing some tweaking to mitigate food safety risks), even though it’s taken two weeks to put in place.

Later that night, I’m driving through Wellington’s Arras Tunnel near the War Memorial. There is a road-marking work gang in the tunnel; two of the four lanes have been “coned off”, reducing to two lanes. The work gang is painting road markings.

I find this remarkable. Until now, the NZTA has stated that all normal road works have been suspended and only urgent, emergency work will be undertaken;

“In accordance with the Government guidance, major project work (Capital Works) is not seen as an essential service and work sites and workers have been stood down for four weeks.

Services to maintain the site can continue as essential services to ensure these sites remain safe. This includes things like traffic management and environmental controls. We will continue to manage and monitor environmental risks and traffic management plans to protect and ensure safety for the travelling public. It is crucial that we preserve the integrity of the asset and render worksites safe.”

Road markings are “Urgent work”?

Has the NZTA authorised this work or has the contractor decided to undertake some work-sneaking? I have emailed NZTA for clarification.

Throughout my entire day, from 9am to when I roll into my driveway at about 8.30, I sight only one police car  all day. There were more police on the roads before the lock-down.

Meanwhile the National Party, various businesses, Simon Bridges, and David Clark lead the race to see who can be the most irresponsible.

Simon Bridges

His drive from Tauranga to Wellington exemplifies the sense of privilege and entitlement that pervades some people in our society. Mr Bridges justified his drive by citing his “constitutional” duties;

“I don’t take these things lightly, but I am the leader of the opposition, I’ve got constitutional duties, I’m running a committee in extreme circumstances where there is no Parliament.”

Is the virus aware of Mr Bridges’s “constitutional” duties?

Simon Bridges is unfit to lead this country.  His display of an utter lack of judgement shows he has no future in politics.

He should and must resign before the next election.

David Clarke

As above.

Businesses

The Warehouse tried it on. So did Jenny Craig. Golf courses (for “mental health”!?). And even a sex shop. Plus umpteen other businesses.

Make no mistake: Every. Business. Is. Essential. Or so their owners and shareholders will insist.

“My business is not essential”, said no business-owner, share-holder ever.

They will cite overseas traders; poor families needing their services (which they only discover when it suits them); “mental health”; physical health; etc.

Mad Butcher” group chief executive, Michael Morton, was interviewed by RNZ Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson on 7 April. He was quite blunt;

“If you open up and doing 20% of your trade, well, you’re going to lose a significant amount of money.”

We should be crystal clear on this: businesses want to open up their businesses to trade as normal – despite the world being in the grip of a deadly pandemic – not because they feel sorry for poor people not being able to buy warm blankets, beer, or play golf, or lose weight through weight-loss programmes; or buy sex-toys.

They want to open up to make money.

It’s that simple.

Don’t let businesses; their political allies; and self-serving deluded apologists tell you otherwise.

They want to make money.

And if, in the process, the pandemic spreads throughout the country and the body-bags start to pile up at mortuaries – they will deny all responsibility for their breath-taking selfishness and point the blame at Jacinda Ardern.

They want to make money. And they will do it over our dead or dying bodies.

The National Party

I swear, it seems to me that political ideology and sheer stupidity go hand-in-hand. Exhibit Number 1: National’s Todd McClay who is demanding that – essentially – all businesses be allowed to re-open. This would cut the lock-down from four weeks to two. Because if all businesses can claim to be “essential” (and what business isn’t “essential to it’s owners/shareholders?), then how is a lock-down a lock-down?

On 6 April, Mr McClay was bitterly complaining to RNZ’s Morning Report;

“The government needs to remain agile when it comes to allowing businesses to operate during the lockdown, if they can prove or show that they can do so safely.

To date the decision making has been too arbitrary and there are too many inconsistencies. For instance, allowing dairies to open but not local butchers or greengrocers, agriculture to continue but not forestry, cigarettes to be manufactured but community newspapers cannot be printed.

An example of this is Noel Leeming – they’re allowed to sell you a jug, but not a cell phone, but the person that’s packaging that … contactless sale that’s being delivered to the door, they’re already at work. Or the warehouse that’s allowed to sell you a car battery, not car polish.

We know that agriculture is functioning, I’d ask what’s the difference between that and forestry – an industry that is hugely important to the central North Island.

I think if you’re a clothing manufacturer, or a small business that’s working from home it can be contactless, you will show that you will adhere to and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules, but we need to be doing everything you can to keep these businesses running

I think if you’re a clothing manufacturer, or a small business that’s working from home it can be contactless, you will show that you will adhere to and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules, but we need to be doing everything you can to keep these businesses running.”

What is really crazy is that a supposedly well-educated, sane, intelligent person could endanger hundreds; thousands; tens of thousands of lives by advocating that businesses be allowed to re-open before the virus has been eradicated.

The breath-taking scale of Mr McClay’s short-sightedness should be seen for what it is: a danger to our own well-being and lives.

Through equal measures of quick action and pure luck, we have dodged (thus far) the covid19 bullet.

People like Mr McClay, Mr Bridges, certain right-wing commentators; and businesspeople would put us all back in the line of that bullet. They will put our safety and lives at risk for money.

These people are a menace.

Buzzword of The Day

National’s media minders have issued a new buzzword for their MPs to use. See if you can spot the “magic” word:

Let’s try and deal with some of the randomness where one is an essential service and one isn’t, let’s be agile and potentially we can move to a more risk-based system.” – Simon Bridges, Leader, National Party, 5 April 2020

The government needs to remain agile when it comes to allowing businesses to operate during the lockdown, if they can prove or show that they can do so safely.” – Todd McClay, National MP,  Economic Development spokesperson, 6 April 2020

Simon Bridges and Todd McClay have forgotten that the virus can be even more agile.

Let me quote an expert who is very familiar with the threat we are facing

“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. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

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This outbreak will not be overcome in one grand, sweeping gesture, but rather by the collection of individual choices we make in the coming months. 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.” – Jonathan Smith, Infectious disease epidemiologist, 21 March 2020

 

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Current covid19 cases: 1,106

Cases in ICU: 3 (1 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

 

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References

RNZ:  More industry and small businesses could reopen – National

RNZ:  Bridges defends Wellington to Tauranga commute

RNZ:  Coronavirus lockdown – Is the Warehouse an essential service?

RNZ:  Jenny Craig defends stance as essential service

Fairfax/Stuff: Coronavirus – Golf clubs could perish if greenkeepers barred from caring for greens

Adult Toy Mega Store

RNZ:  Coronavirus – Mad Butcher CEO claims government decisions hurt butchers

TVNZ: Jacinda Ardern does not want lockdown to last ‘a minute longer than needed’, but says it won’t finish early

NZTA: Roadworks and projects

Elemental: Hold the Line

RNZ:  Covid-19 – What happened on 6 April

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

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

Other Blogs

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

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

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Acknowledgement: Evans

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Life in Lock Down: Day 11

6 April 2020 2 comments

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April 5: Day eleven of living in lock-down…

My one day of rest for the week, and an opportunity to mow my lawns – which I’d been delaying for about three weeks. (On the plus side, the damp micro-climate in my back yard yielded three lovely fresh mushrooms for breakfast today, along with chorizo sausage and two eggs.)

First up, TVNZ’s Q+A at 9am.  A great interview with Dr Ayesha Verrall who said it was too early to tell how we were progressing with controlling cid19. We needed more data on community transmission, she said.

Dr Verrall was also concerned with how covid19 could be easily transmitted in lower socio-economic areas where low-income families were living in over-crowded housing.

She was forthright in advocating more restrictive practices, saying that the more retail outlets like Noel Leemings, Mitre10, etc, that were open to the public, the more gatherings would occur where transmission could take place.

In a crisis like this pandemic, it’s more worthwhile listening to scientists and medical professionals that business people and National Party politicians agitating for businesses to re-open earlier.

Following Dr Verrall was National Party Leader, Simon Bridges. He advocated full quarantining of arrivals to Aotearoa as well. Which would be fine except for a long time National was advocating tax cuts when faced with the growing pandemic crisis overseas. It was only after the government implemented a ban on all students from China that Mr Bridges fell in line with travel bans for people from affected nations.

Mr Bridges also strongly advocated more border controls; more testing; and more tracing. He made no mention of strengthening the lock-down and closure of non-essential businesses. He is mostly silent on the issue, as National is well known for it’s strong link to the business community.

Interestingly, the Word of the Day for Simon Bridges seemed to be “agile”; used so many times during the interview that this blogger lost count. “Let’s be agile” and variations thereof was his mantra.

An interview with ACT MP; libertarian, and spokesperson for promoting the spread of the covid19 virus, David Seymour followed. His concern for privacy and individual liberties would be laughable considering ACT’s  past support for increasing surveillance powers for the GCSB, Police, and SIS.

The covid19 virus would like to thank Mr Seymour for his support.

Following David Seymour, Dr Mel Bunce from the University of London gave her thoughts on the state of the media, as revenue from advertising dried up, weakening the fourth estate when it was needed most to report on the worst epidemic in 102 years.

She suggested that the proposed merger of NZME and Stuff was a two-edged sword. On the one hand a larger corporate entity might weather the current economic melt-down better than two smaller companies.

But on the other hand, she pointed to Bauer Media Group suffering financially and closing many of Aotearoa’s most well-known magazines as it withdrew it’s operations. She said a similar fate to a merged NZME/Stuff could  close up to 90% of the country’s media.

Rodney Jones from Wigram Capital Advisors offered his insights and research that China had under-reported deaths in their country by up to 40,000. He said we could not look to China for solutions because we coulkd not trust their data. He suggested that China will have negative GDP this year.

He also questioned how the pandemic would impact on globalisation – echoing the sentiments by others that the virus would do to neo-liberalism which progressives had failed to achieve.

Jack Tame finished the programme with a statement that Q+A would be doing another episode during Easter  (unlike it’s counterpart on TV3).

After lunch, sticking to the stay at home,exercise locally protocol I went for a walk around the block. The weather was fine and it was perfect to enjoy the quiet of a Level 4 Lock Down Sunday.

Unable to procrastinate any longer, it was time to pull out the lawn-mower and attack three (more like four?) weeks of turf growth.It’s unfair, I said to some passers-by: lawn-mowing should not be required during the Virus Apocalypse…

Did Bruno Lawrence have to mow his lawns in The Quiet Earth? Will Smith in I am Legend? Charlton Heston in The Omega Man? Grass continues to grow despite the slow collapse of civilisation-as-we-know-it…

At 1pm, Jacinda Ardern and Ashleigh Bloomfield make a televised address to the country. The latest figures are disclosed. There are more cases of covid19 and two more infection “clusters”.

Worryingly three people are in ICU – two are critical. Our death toll may rise.

Ms Ardern then made a rare departure from form, referring to “idiots” who are not taking the crisis seriously. She refers to the moron in Dunedin who deliberately coughed and sneezed at people whilst filming himself and uploading it onto social media. He has since been arrested and charged.

Standing on my front lawn at 1.55 – just in time to see a “boy”-racer (in late 20s, early 30s? too old to be a “boy” racer?) roar past at high speed. Seconds later, the sound of a police siren and a police car appears from around the corner, flying past in hot pursuit.

He went that way!” thumb pointing, as I ‘helpfully’ called out to the police car (it was unlikely he heard me in the 1 second he sped by).

Who said that lock-downs were boring? I was witnessing a live-action episode of “Police Ten-Seven” in front of my own house!

(The one positive thing about near empty streets?  Police chases become less problematic with fewer vehicles on the road and pedestrians out and about.)

That evening, I ‘Skyped’ my parents. They are in self-isolation. The pandemic affects their region as well.

With their age and under-lying medical conditions, a covid19 infection would make life very hard for them. It took a while to explain what Aotearoa’s lock-down meant and why only (supposedly) essential services were allowed to open. I described what a “bubble” meant and how – if it was religiously followed – it would stop the virus from transmitting to others. I explained it was legally backed up by a declaration of a State of Emergency and the edict to stay home and exercise locally was not a Take-It-Or-Leave-It choice (David Clark, take note!).

My youngest sibling, who has severe multiple sclerosis, is in strict quarantine by his carers. For him, covid19 would be an automatic, quick death sentence.

Following my parents, I ‘Skyped’ my partner. It’s been nearly three weeks since I last saw her in person. It was a joy to see her face and we spent half an hour or more sharing what we had done today; the short-lived excitement of witnessing a police-chase in my own street. There was cheeky banter exchanged and our plans for tomorrow. She is still working long hours for her organisation, though it’s done from home by phone, ‘Skype’, or video conferencing.

Tomorrow we begin Week 3 of lock-down.

Whether or not we begin to control the virus and see fewer people fall victim to it depends on what we do collectively. In short, it’s up to us.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,039

Cases in ICU: 3 (2 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

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References

RNZ:  PM – David Clark ‘needs to be a role model’

RNZ:  Covid-19 – What happened on 5 April

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

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

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: What kind of Police State do you call this? Why Faafoi & Clark should get slapped and what the hell is the CTU doing?

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

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Acknowledgement: Evan

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Life in Lock Down: Day 10

5 April 2020 3 comments

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April 4: Day 10 of living in lock-down…

I wake up to a fine Saturday morning which normally would be like an early Christmas. But it’s Day 10 of Level 4 Lock Down. What  will my fellow New Zealanders be doing on a day like this – staying home in lock-down, or venturing out en-masse to every park, walk-way, beach, river side they can find? The TAB won’t be taking bets on that question (if they were open).

Today would be a perfect day to mow the lawns. As someone kindly pointed out to me recently, I’ve neglected them for two weeks too long. Mind you, the damp micro-climate on my back yard “lawn” has produced half a dozen mushrooms thus far…

Today is not lawn-mowing day. I’m filling in for a colleague who has been pulled off duties with our clients when it was realised his wife worked at a major supermarket and he helped out on-site. In effect his “bubble includes our six clients; six of his colleagues (including me) and several hundred Wellingtonians who are customers at the supermarket his wife works at.

“Not optimal” would be an understatement. The masks, latex gloves, hand-washing, and wiping our shoes’ soles with disinfectant would be meaningless with the extent of his contact with so many other people.

So I’m doing his shift this afternoon/evening, making it a six day working week.

If any of us catch the virus, I suspect we’ll all be pulling a six or even seven day working week. Best not to think about it.

Wake up in time to catch Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation on TV3.

First up was Grant Robertson. While I have utmost respect for the gentleman and the hellish job (matched only by our own Wonder Woman, Prime Minister Ardern), he doesn’t add much new to what we already know.

There’s some persistent questioning about why the government didn’t step in to buy Bauer Media Group’s magazines (The Listener, Metro, Woman’s Weekly, et al) that it closed on 2 April.

Bizarre. It has taken an unseen micro-organism to bring down the mighty pillars of neo-liberalism, with a  clamour that the State acquire (for $1!) part of a magazine empire. The blessed irony of it all; state-owned media! Only a handful of other countries exist where the State owns or controls media publications.

In only thirtysix years the neo-liberal edifice of the free market has come crashing down. To paraphrase H.G. Wells, the free-market neo-liberal system was…

“…slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all [progressive movement’s] devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.”

This time, the “humblest thing” that slew the free market was not bacteria, but an even smaller, more distant cousin, the virus.

Even the Soviet Union last twice as long.

To drive home the point of the utter failure of the neo-liberal system, Finance Minister Robertson pointed out just how fortunate we were that the mania for “small government” by the Right had not been implemented in this country.

Host Simon Shepherd asked;

Simon Shepherd: “Is there a risk that at the end of this we’re going to be a nation with has a massive public sector and not much private enterprise?

Grant Robertson: “No, I don’t believe so. The New Zealand private sector was robust and strong and full of innovative people coming into covid19, and it will be on the other side.

I think what we have learned out of this is that having a robust public sector is vitally important when you have a crisis like this, and so that will be important.

Grant Robertson also made it clear that the tourism sector would have to change after this crisis was over. We certainly need to wind back the foot traffic currently trampling over the countryside. Add to that the hyper-commercialisation of our tertiary sector which is heavily reliant on students from other countries to pay our education bill (and is often a back-door conduit for  high levels of immigration which our infrastructure is ill-designed to cope with).

Perhaps it’s little wonder that Simon Bridges’ earlier strident calls for tax cuts had fallen on deaf ears. People could see with their own eyes what was happening in China, then Europe, and now the United States. A strong collective response – in the form of The State – could be the only viable defence against a fast-spreading pandemic. People understood that a few extra bucks in our wallets/purses was hardly going to protect us from an invisible enemy.

Simon Bridges didn’t just “not read the room” – he was in the wrong bloody building.

Newshub Nation presented a wide range of interviews and the case of Jess Delabarca was an example that the contagion could affect any of us, young or old. The young may be “bullet proof”, but not “virus proof”.

One of the two panellists, Professor in Politics and International Relations, Jennifer Curtin, expressed her shock at Bauer Media Group’s sudden closure. She also pointed out it was difficult for the State to buy/bail out one private media company  – without then supporting the entire sector. In effect, the free market model would be utterly turned on it’s head, with the State acquiring one distressed company after another.

The late Robert Muldoon’s dire warning in his “Dancing Cossacks” political ad that “one day the State would own everything and you know what that’s called” – was wrong in only one respect. The companies themselves were clamouring for a State/taxpayer buy-out.

The capitalists were jumping ship, having hit an invisible viral iceberg.

At the conclusion of the programmwe, Host Simon Shepherd announced that Newshub Nation was taking a “break for Easter and would be back in two weeks. Which, considering that the entire world is facing an apocalypse, was an optimistic view. Hopefully there will be a live audience to watch his programme in two weeks time.

On the way into work, it was another moment to observe the streets around me…

The railway Park’N’Ride carpark was empty;

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The white motorhome, first noticed on 31 March parked on a major thoroughfare toward SH2 was still parked in front of the same property – but had moved – now facing the opposite way;

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Spotted long the way; three ambulances; a double-tandem gravel-hauling truck; a “New World” delivery van; a “Pacific” double-tandem fuel tanker; a patient-transfer ambulance SUV; “Fulton Hogan truck; and a “Newbolds” van.

As if a weekend from the 1970s, there appeared to be few commercial vehicles on the road. What little traffic consisted of mostly ordinary motorcars.

The traffic on SH2 was still light; approximately four cars ahead, and a similar number behind me. Traffic became lighter to the north of the Melling lights. Arriving closer to Wellington on the motorway, traffic thinned out even more, with perhaps three or four cars ahead, and similar to my rear.

The day was beautifully sunny, a near perfect summery day though we’re now feeling the chills of autumn. Though the harbour was placid and calm there were no recreational boats of any kind on the water. Yachties and other recreational boaties seemed to be heeding the call to stay of the water.

At the Terrace tunnel, there were six on-coming cars, nothing to my rear.

Driving through Wellington, vehicular traffic was light to non-existent. Not the busy times pre-Lock-down, when roads were busier on Saturdays than during the working week. Bicyclists were out and about, with two or three around me at any one time. There were plenty of strollers enjoying the lovely weather but not many observing the two metre rule.

Approaching Chaffers Street New World supermarket, I noticed shoppers carrying their re-usable shopping bags and – fresh cut flowers? A brief stop at New World confirmed my observation – the supermarket was selling flowers;

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A florist was supplying the retailer with fresh flowers. An “essential” service?! Oh hell, why not. Sex shops , weight loss industry,  and golf courses all think they’re essential as well. In capitalism, everyone thinks their business is essential. The stench of self-entitlement – like affluent yachties flocking to their holiday homes – is pervasive.

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The longer people willfully flout the lock-down the longer this crisis will be with us. The longer law-abiding citizens will have to live with the massive upset to their lives whilst others are enjoying their impromptu holiday. The more people will get sick.

And the greater the likelihood that the death toll will rise.

I liken those who flout the lock down as those who drink and drive. They endanger others with their recklessness.

If this worsens, it’ll be time to borrow a leaf from our Aussie cuzzies and go hard on those who are putting the rest of us at risk;

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I don’t care what excuses – usually concern for poor families – are put forward. Having retail outlets such as The Warehouse open for public trading will be an open conduit for the transmission of the virus. If low income people need blankets, heaters, and other winter-ralated goods, let them be distributed free of charge by the State. The greater the need, the lower the cost should be commensurately.

If the State can subsidise private companies and their employees we can assist those at the bottom of the socio-economic  heap.

Continuing my drive to work, I took the Oriental Bay route. I saw a light-sign asking people;

“Enjoy your beach walk but don’t linger”

— clearly a reference to people previously congregating on the beach, often in close proximity, and adding to the threat of viral transmission.

Most people were doing the right thing, with only a couple of dozen people on the sand and two in the water;

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As I drove around the bays, another observation struck me. Where pedestrian numbers were heavy, the 2-metre physical  distancing rule was mostly ignored. Where pedestrian traffic was more sparse, people made more effort to walk around each other.

In effect, where physical distancing was most needed, it was less employed.

Another reason to minimise and restrict retail outlets opening and recreational activities that attract crowds.

I also noticed a fair number of bicyclists riding on the footpath, making it harder for pedestrians to physically distance themselves from the riders. Which was mystifying considering the near lack of vehicular traffic on the roads. At this point in time, bicyclists could practically “own the roads”.

Arrive at work. Carry out formal sanitising protocol before entering premises; sanitise hands; wipe shoes with disinfectant; send call to unlock gate. Inside, re-wash hands with hot water and soap. Routine completed, work begins. Remember to re-stock my satchel with latex gloves and ASTM Level 1 mask. (The latter offers minimal protection. Practically pointless to wear it when outside. But with so many people flouting lock-down protocols, any protection is better than going out “naked”.)

The afternoon and evening passes quickly. All clients are reasonably health, except one. He is diabetic T2, obese, and in poor health. He is suffering diabetes related complications. He is nil symptomatic of covid19 but if he caught it, my belief is that it would be a death sentence. Luckily the facility is in total lock-down – even management are banned from entering (and this has been rigorously enforced).

I work in close proximity to him. If he is infected, it will be on my conscience.

It is night by the time I leave.It is again deathly quiet. No pedestrians. No vehicular traffic. No sound of cars, trucks, or motorbikes. The airport is silent. It is a deathly silence I’m still finding hard to get used to.

Except for the lights on in houses along the street, I could be the last human on Earth.

And something else… smells I never noticed before. Without low vehicle and almost no aircraft emissions, the air is cleaner than ever. There is a subtle sweet smell in the air. Flowers? Perfume?

I sanitise my hands in the car.

The trip home is uneventful. Along the motorway I do a rough count of  vehicles-per-kilometre: two.

I see four ambulance on my trip homes. One bus. Three police cars (two of which are attending an incident by the Kilbirnie Fire Station). There is a Hyundai radar-van parked on the side of the motorway just south of he motorway. Pointless, considering the near non-existant traffic. It’ll be slim picking tonight for traffic enforcement/revenue gathering. Another police car sighted on SH2, lights flashing, parked behind a car that may have broken down.

Then home. Shoes are removed and left outside (a habit I’ve always practiced); open door; straight into the bathroom to wash my hands. Keys wiped with disinfectant.

“Dinner” is light. It’s too late to cook anything so it’s cold left-overs.

Tomorrow, it’s a day off. Watch TVNZ’s Q+A; mow the lawns; go for a walk along my street. Rest.

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Postscript:

As the Bauer Group exploit the covid19 crisis lock down and close down a long list of well-known magazine titles, this letter to the editor in the April 4-10 edition (the last ?), by former Minister of Communications, Ian Shearer, was published. It appeared before Bauer Group made their announcement to shut down The Listener and reads almost like an epitaph dripping with irony;

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Acknowledgement: @BarbSturmfels

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Mr Shearer was a minister in the Lange-led government which initiated the mad craze of privatising state-owned (ie; owned by you and me) assets. Like The Listener. [Blogger’s correction: Ian Shearer was actually a Minister in the Muldoon-led National government from 1975 to 1984. Apologies for the error. – Frank Macskasy]

Like privatising and re-nationalising Air New Zealand several times over, it hasn’t worked out well, has it?!

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Current covid19 cases: 950

Number of deaths: 1

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References

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – Grant Robertson hints at potential rent freeze for business

RNZ: Covid-19 – Major magazine publisher Bauer Media closing down

Wikiquotes: H.G. Wells

Adult Toy Mega Store

RNZ: Jenny Craig and storage facility staff told they are essential service

Fairfax/Stuff: Coronavirus – Golf clubs could perish if greenkeepers barred from caring for greens

RNZ:  Resident furious outsiders ignoring lockdown to use holiday homes

Smart Company: Business owner fined $5000 as NSW Police enforce coronavirus lockdowns

NSW Gov Clinical Excellence Commission: Application of PPE in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

RNZ:  Covid-19 wrap –  What happened on 4 April

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

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 April 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 9

4 April 2020 1 comment

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April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down…

Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his wife works for a super-market and he helps out with her work as well.

I feel sorry for him. But it’s too much of a risk. He could easily carry something back  to older clients – many of who have some serious underlying medical conditions. Several would not survive a covid19 infection.

As per my usual route, I drive past the Park’N’Ride carpark: only three cars.

The white motorhome is still parked where I first noticed it on 31 March.

Onto SH2 for the now quick ride into Wellington. It’s around mid-day. Traffic seems… marginally “busier”? By “busier”, I mean an increase from three of four vehicles on the road with me, to six or eight. And it seems to be more cars than commercial trucks, vans, etc. I hope it’s my imagination.

Noting commercial vehicles; an “InterGroup” branded truck carrying a holding tank and heavy pumping equipment; an ambulance;  a large, empty scrap metal haulage double-tandem truck (essential?! really?!); “Countdown-branded covered truck; a Highway Patrol police car parked on the side of the motorway (one of only two police cars I see throughout the entire day); a “Bidfood” truck; “McFall” oil tanker truck; a skip-bin truck (empty); 4 “Mainfreight” trucks; “ACM” security truck; “Steinlager” branded truck; a “Chemdry” van (carpets gotta be cleaned even during a virus apocalypse so we meet our Maker with clean shagpile); “Frost”-branded van; a fire-fighting appliance and fire service van, on the side of the motorway; two container-hauling trucks (empty); a “FMS – Food Machinary” service van; “New World” branded truck; a “Waste Management” truck; a hi-ab truck carting heavy metal/iron machine parts; “Beaurepaires” van; an empty hi-ab flat deck truck; “Hirepool” truck; more roadworks with “Fulton Hogan” vehicles, north of The Terrace tunnel; a “Bosco” heavy-gravel hauling truck; in the city, a “Dawson”s grease-trap truck; a SCL Wellington (laboratories) car; a MTA car; a “Cricket Wellington” car in Vivian Street.

In Miramar, a van branded with “Vital” is parked in a spot and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t there yesterday. The garish orange colouring makes it hard to blend in with other vehicles nearby and kinda gives it away. Another individual or business for whom the lock-down is non-applicable?

On the radio, RNZ was carrying a story that Moodys credit rating agency had left New Zealand’s sovereign-rating unchanged. As a foreign financial website reported;

In its latest review report on New Zealand’s (NZ) sovereign credit ratings, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the NZ long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings at Aaa and maintained the stable outlook.

“The drivers behind the rating affirmation include Moody’s assessment of New Zealand’s strong governance, including sound monetary and fiscal institutions with track records of proactive and effective policymaking.

[…]

Moody’s expects the New Zealand economy to remain resilient in the face of shocks, given its trade openness, diverse and competitive agricultural export base, flexible labor and product markets, high wealth levels, and favorable demographics, driven by robust migration trends.”

That made me smile. Aside from not being the news National would like to hear (because it made the Labour-led government look like sound fiscal managers) – it stood in stark contrast  for when the Key-led government racked up a massive debt of at least $71.6 billion by June 2011 – three years after it had taken office.

Splurging on borrowing billions after two unaffordable tax cuts in 2009 and 2010, two other ratings agencies (Standard & Poors and Fitch downgraded New Zealand’s sovereign credit ratings thereafter.

All the while, the current government will be borrowing at least $25 billion to keep the economy afloat.

The lesson from this is simple enough; the capitalists on Wall Street were not impressed with National having to borrow to sustain their promised tax cuts. (In effect, National borrowed other people’s savings to put money into our back pockets. A quasi-socialist money transfer under the cloak of “tax cuts”. )

The capitalists on Wall Street, however, recognise that the current government is borrowing, not for consumption, but for stimulus. The difference is subtle, but nevertheless, real.

Meanwhile, focusing back on the road…

Despite only emergency road works supposedly permitted during the lock down, a roading gang with vehicles was operating just north of the Ngauranga inter4change. “Downer” vans were parked nearby.

Driving in toward the city, a low cloud-fog had enveloped most of the entrance to the harbour and eastern suburbs. Irony of ironies, even without covid19, the airport would have been closed this afternoon;

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The Terrace Tunnel which, in the last few days was almost empty, had more traffic today. At least six or eight cars were present any one time as I drove through.

There seemed fewer people on the streets. Hardly surprising; it was a gray, over-cast day and entering the city it began to lightly drizzle. Not a day for a casual stroll through the city, lock down or not.

At Kilbirnie Pak N Save, a client required assistance with their shopping. This is not a task normally assigned to us – but these are unusual times requiring different solutions. Even with careful management by Pak N Save staff, to prevent over-crowding in the supermarket aisles, there were still “bottlenecks”; places where popular products were kept on shelves.

The two-metre phyical distancing rule became also impossible to maintain. This was not just because a small number ignored the protocol – but because one person in the middle of an aisle effectively blocked it with their two-metre “bubble”.

Which was sufficient to give real cause for concern to let smaller retail outlets open, or even larger outlet which had narrower aisles than a supermarket.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t just butchers, Jenny Craig, storage facilities, and sundry assorted other businesses clamouring for the coveted title of “essential service”.

Next in line; golf courses;

As of Monday, the Covid-19 website’s list of additional services stated: “Turf maintenance is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time.”

NZG have asked for essential and critical maintenance to be carried out in a solo manner by an individual, who either lives on course or outside the golf facility.

[…]

“We know the government is trying to save lives here. Obviously growing grass isn’t that, but we’re worried about the damage at the end of it,” Murphy said.

“If we can do a little bit of essential maintenance by individuals doing solo work, we think that’s a reasonable exemption.”

[…]

“Our greens are our babies and if we stay away from those for too long there will be repercussions down the other end with job losses and probably club closures,” New Zealand Golf Course Superintendents Association president Steve Hodson said.

Is there anyone in Aotearoa New Zealand who isn’t running an “essential service”?!

Who is next in line? Sex toy shops?

Oh, wait… it had to happen.

Meanwhile, as some people have yet to understand the full deadly nature of this disease, there are now over a million cases of covid19 worldwide, and nearly 53,000 people have died.

By sheer fortune, we have (thus far) escaped the worst of it.

Golf courses can be fixed up. Jenny Craig can temporarily halt peddling its illusory promises of a svelte figure. None of which is worth a single human life.

Tonight, after I left Wellington, heading home, I realised I could no longer avoid going to the supermarket for my own grocery needs. Like something out of a Stephen King supernatural thriller, supermarkets have become a place of dread. Especially as we learn how easily the covid19 virus can be transmitted by a cough or sneeze. Or even – as it may be the case – by exhaling.

For the second time today, I “suit up” in my most-basic hazmat protective gear: a pair of blue latex gloves and a paper face mask that may or may not work.

And there’s three more weeks (at least!) of this to go.

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Current covid19 cases: 868

Number of deaths: 1

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References

FX Street:  Moody’s affirms New Zealand’s Aaa rating, maintains stable outlook – NZD/USD retests highs

Fairfax/Stuff media: Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

New Zealand Debt Management Office: New Zealand Sovereign Credit Ratings

Fairfax/Stuff media: Coronavirus – Government doubles borrowing forecast as economy worsens

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – Exclusion of butchers as essential service will cause ‘animal welfare crisis’ says pork sector

RNZ:  Jenny Craig defends stance as essential service

RNZ: Jenny Craig and storage facility staff told they are essential service

Fairfax/Stuff: Coronavirus – Golf clubs could perish if greenkeepers barred from caring for greens

Adult Toy Mega Store

RNZ:  Covid-19 – Confirmed global cases pass one million

Science News:  Just breathing or talking may be enough to spread COVID-19 after all

RNZ:  Covid-19 update – 71 new cases, down from yesterday’s high, but clusters increase

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

Questionable assumptions ‘bad for small democracies’

It’s official – National is a poor manager of the Economy.

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)

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 April 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 8

3 April 2020 5 comments

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April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down…

Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital recently discovered. Yesterday I received a pandemic “pack”. Latex gloves (good); one small bottle of hand sanitiser (good – but won’t last long); and paper face masks (useless). Better than nothing, I guess.

Checked emails. We’re advised a list of protocols to follow travelling from client to client. One is disinfecting our shoes… I’m going to have to find some disinfectant.

Breakfast; coffee, weetbix, soy milk, and fresh chopped figs.

I have a tip-off questioning whether a rather curious business is authorised by MoBIE to be operating. The business claims to have authorisation to do so, but I’m dubious. I make enquiries.

Chatted to some passers-by walking past my house (a good three metres distance between us). They’re a couple in their 60s,  intrigued by my fig tree. I tell them  to help themselves; there’s plenty there. (Otherwise the wax-eyes will get them)

We discuss the lock-down and how well people are adhering to the rules. They say most are following the lock-down rules, but some of their neighbours are making them angry. Especially as the gentleman is diabetic and in a vulnerable age with an under-lying medical condition (like this blogger). They’ll be using the dob-in line, they tell me.

We discuss HBA1C blood sugar levels. His is in the mid-40s, lower than mine. He offers a few suggestions how I can better self-manage my blood sugar. Some very good suggestions which I take onboard.

She picked half a dozen figs. I suggest he is careful how many he eats; they are so ripe they’re high in sugar (wasps have been attracted to the fruit, en masse).

On the way to work, in the late afternoon (late start, late finish) the Park’N’Ride has only one car. Good sign, so far.

The white motorhome is still parked up where it’s been for the last few days.

From  the Hutt Valley to the Eastern suburbs, around a 40km trip, I see… one police car.

On the motorway there appears to be more car traffic than commercial vehicles. The commercial ones I spot include Fulton Hogan; a double tandem gravel-hauler; a stack of beehives on a flat-deck light-truck; a “Pacific”-branded fuel tanker; “Gator”-branded heat pumps van; a Downer truck; “Eurofins” Laboratory car; “Hawkeye”-branded ute; “Red Wolf” security ute; WEL (Wellington Electricity)  van; 3 Mainfreight trucks; an emty container-haulage truck; “Budget” rental van; “Spotless” catering van; 2 fully-laden container trucks; “Linfox” branded truck; “ACM” security van; Scania truck; and a “Chemdry” van (carpet cleaning business must be on the up and up?).

Traffic appears, on the face of it, “heavier” than the last few days. However, it’s a different time of the day (around 3.30pm), so people may be on their way home as I’m hoofing it to work.

More near-deserted streets in Wellington…

In Miramar, a gent in his 50s (60s?) is sitting in the open back of his van, cleaning a paint brush. Judging by the gear in the van, he’s a full-on commercial painter, not a DIYer. The house he’s parked in front  has scaffolding around it;

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I’m hoping the house he’s painting is empty and so is maintaining his bubble – by the look of his age, he’d be in the vulnerable age group.

It’s a long work day. My clients are still in lock down – most have underlying medical conditions as well as in the 50s – 60s age group. I doubt many of them would survive a covid19 infection. Protocol for entering; gate unlocked; hands washed immediately; soles of shoes wiped clean with disinfectant.

The evening passes quickly. Paperwork on-line is completed,  and it’s time to go home.

Outside, in the night, there is a fire engine with lights flashing down the street. No siren, just the red strobes of the emergency lights.  It reminds me that the true heroes of this crisis (as well as retail workers at supermarkets) are the fire-fighters, police, and medical professionals. We owe them so much – our lives, when you think about it.

As I stand on the footpath, it’s a windless night. No other cars. And no airplanes taking off from the nearby Wellington International Airport.

It’s just… silence. The Quiet Earth is here. This is civilisation’s “dial” wound back to near-zero.

The drive home is like the drive home last night, and the night before: a near empty motorway.

At home, I have my own protocol’s; shoes off outside; open door; straight to bathroom to thoroughly wash hands. Phone and other gear wiped down with disinfectant. Is it enough? Who knows. But it’s what we have to work with.

Tonight I skype my partner, “A”. We don’t live together so we have our respective “bubbles”. We don’t mix at all and I haven’t seen her since the Sunday prior to lock-down. We chat, swapping stories of our work day. It’s good to see her smile.

“A” pranks me by coughing and complaining of a sore throat. I’m alarmed for a second before I notice the expression on her face. *Bazinga!* She got me. It’s black humour, but by the gods it lightens the mood. (And it’s pay-back for the times I take the mickey with her.)  After half an hour, we’re both showing signs of weariness. It’s bedtime; say our goodnights; and sign off.

Tomorrow is another day. Let’s see what it brings.

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Current covid19 cases: 797

Number of deaths: 1

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References

RNZ:  Coronavirus – First death in New Zealand from Covid-19

RNZ:  Live Covid-19 updates from New Zealand and around the world on 2 April

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)

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in Lock Down: Day 7

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April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down…

This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – just as the country went into Level 4 Lock-down.  His new employer had declined to honour his commitment to hire my neighbour. This leaves “D” in limbo with a wife, four weeks away from delivery of their first child.

I suggested his new employer should be able to access the government wage subsidy? “D” will follow that up. In the meantime, “D” has advised his  landlord he cannot pay the rent until his finances are sorted – and the landlord has expressed understanding of his situation.

Later that morning, as I sip my third (or fourth?) coffee, I’m staring out the window, planning my day. It’s a fine, clear autumn say. My companion animal is asleep on the pathway handrail enjoying the sunshine;

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As I drink my coffee and state out the window, a big red coca cola branded truck rattles past. Considering everything I’ve written about them the last few days, I’m wondering, “Ok, now they’re trolling me?!” I smile wryly to myself: it’s a  weird way to start the day.

At the nearby Park’N’Ride, there are only two cars parked – half of yesterday’s tally.

On the main thoroughfare to SH2, the white motorhome is still parked on the side of the road. The owners have either decamped, or have parked up and are taking the “Stay where you are” edict seriously.

SH2 has only light, sporadic traffic – and at several points is utterly empty;

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I turn right at the Kelson lights turn-off to dump some cardboard at the recycling station. I forgot: the recycling bins for cardboard and glass were removed shortly after Aotearoa went into Level four lockdown. There’s nothing there. Even the remaining two clothing bins have been turned around so people can’t deposit unwanted clothes;

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Back on the motorway there is marginally more traffic near the Melling lights-interection.

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It thins out again, as I proceed further south toward Wellington.

During the half hour drive, I see a police car at Silverstream; another big red coca cola branded truck; STMS (Shepherd Traffic Management System); a Fisher & Paykel truck; a red “Jina’s” fruit and veg van; a Mainfreight double-tandem; an Armourguard car; AEL; Booths Management truck; two Waste Management trucks; two  Downer vans; three more Mainfreight trucks; a “Service Foods” branded car; a container-laden truck; a ute marked “Interstall”;  two firewood laden trucks at Melling; a Naylor Love van; ambulance; Fulton Hogan truck; a car transport carrying three cars (really? that’s “essential”?!); a scrap metal truck fully laden (again, essential?!); a Gilmour’s truck; Linfox truck; Bidfood truck; and a “V” energy-drink truck.

The Terrace Tunnel is empty save for one on-coming SUV;

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It is late morning by now, so what constitutes “rush hour” traffic in these strange times has long since disappeared.

Exiting the tunnel, I get into Wellington and Vivian Street is deserted;

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The only thing missing from the scene is a tumbleweed rolling across the road…

Looking back toward the tunnel, more of the eerie emptiness;

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The “Z” fuel station in Vivian Street has it’s fuel-price board dark for the third or fourth (?) day in a row. Either it doesn’t want to publicise outrageously expensive fuel or the signage has malfunctioned and they’re finding it difficult to get an electrician to repair it;

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Returning to my car, I see three or four vehicles exiting the Terrace Tunnel. For some reason, I find it reassuring;

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The dead quiet – novel at first – starts to wear on the nerves. It is human nature to seek out others and perhaps more so in a city that should be teeming with other people.

It’s just after mid-day. Radio NZ’s Mid Day Report is on; it’s a warm sunny day,  and I decide to take the alternative route through Oriental Parade. I want to check out if the beaches are once again beginning to fill up with people.

Oriental Parade has pedestrians strolling the wide walkway with joggers zipping past them. Everyone is valiantly trying to maintain the two metre protocol and (as I discover later that afternoon), the message seems to be getting through.

Both beaches are empty;

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And they’re not empty by accident. Two constables are on duty, and I spot them just as they finish chatting with two other people;

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The two are on obvious patrol and are willing to stop for a brief chat. Both agree to pose for a photo and they’re happy when I tell them it’s for The Daily Blog;

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As we part, they thank me. Shaking my head, I reply,

“No, thank you! Good to see you both here.”

In a way, two constables out on the streets is a return to old-school community policing when, once-upon-a-time (and not that long ago) we had the Bobby On The Beat. Walking amongst us, they are a part of the community. Our community.

It is unfortunate that we need policing resources diverted from their more critical work because some a too complacent to realise the deadly nature of the enemy confronting us. As covid19 cases globally have reached 862,234, with 42,404 deaths, we can’t afford to take this lightly.

Not unless this is the scenario we want for our country;

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Let’s hope the gentle reminders of our police will serve to remind people to behave appropriately. As infectious disease epidemiologist, Jonathan Smith wrote recently;

“Stay strong and in solidarity knowing that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people continue getting sick and dying.

[…]

This outbreak will not be overcome in one grand, sweeping gesture, but rather by the collection of individual choices we make in the coming months. This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices.”

At Evans Bay, I discover that public facilities have been closed for The Duration. The signages states;

“All facilities are closed temporarily to help stop the spread of covid 19.”

It’s obvious of course. The virus is highly infectious and public toilets may facilitate transmission. (A possibility I hadn’t considered until I read the signs. So many things we take for granted…)

At the round-a-bout on Cobham Drive, one of Wellington’s busiest thoroughfares servicing the Airport, the road is again eerily quiet;

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I have to wait a few minutes before vehicles eventually appear;

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What must the residents of Strathmore, Kilbirnie, and Miramar be thinking as air travel becomes practically non-existent, and near-silence descends over their neighbourhoods. Perhaps, if I have time I should find a way to interview some of the locals (without my physical presence, of course!).

Later in the day, as I’m out walking with a client in Strathmore, I begin to notice that nearly everyone is making a concerted effort to observe the two metre rule. Families have begun walking in single-file to lessen their “bubble” as others walk past.

There is plenty of considerate behaviour. No one is taking the mickey.

And another thing that suddenly occurs to me. There are families with young children out on bikes; Big bike for the adults; little bikes for the “littlies”. They’re mostly on the road.

I’ve never seen this before because up till now it has rarely happened. Up till last Wednesday, roads were dominated by vehicles and parents would rarely risk taking their young children out on bikes. But this afternoon, it was a common sight. It was safe. The roads were now for families.

Imagine if that could be the new normal.

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Current covid19 cases: 708

Number of deaths: 1

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References

Johns Hopkins University: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)

Mediaworks/Newshub:  First hearse arrives at Spain’s ice-rink morgue

Elemental: Hold the Line

Business Insider:  Spain’s coronavirus crisis is so uncontrollable that some care-home residents have been abandoned or left dead in their beds and Madrid is using an ice rink as a makeshift morgue

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown – NZers in their 20s are ‘the ones that pass it on’ – PM

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

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 (sanitised version)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 April 2020.

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