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Life in Lock Down: Day 13

8 April 2020 3 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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This blogpost was also  published on The Daily Blog on 9 April 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 12

7 April 2020 2 comments

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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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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 8 April 2020.

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