Neuseeland / New Zealand

Sunday 12 April 2020

Who am I?

Name – Lisa

Age – 52

Country of residence – Wellington, New Zealand (UK/NZ joint citizen)

Birth country – UK

Occupation – Business reporting analyst for country’s electricity transmission company

State of lockdown

New Zealand is in day 18 of lockdown.  Our government introduced a 4 level system of lockdowns and we are in level 4 – the strictest level.  All non-essential workers are staying at home.  Only main exceptions are to go to the supermarket and do daily exercise.  My household also fits into another of the exceptions as I have a flatmate and she has a boyfriend who lives alone.  We can join our two households so that the two form a “bubble”. We have to stay within our bubbles.  Borders are now closed and all those entering (returning NZers) have to stay in government facilities for 14 days as a quarantine measure.

In New Zealand, on 12 April there were 18 new and confirmed cases of Covid-19. This brings the total to 1,330 new and confirmed cases while 471 have recovered. 14 people are in hospital, 5 in intensive care, 1 in critical condition. 4 people have died.

What did I do today?

I cleaned the house.  Not the usual clean – but a really good clean; cupboard tops, oven, under the beds, larder, skirting boards and much more.  Why? Because I felt the pressure to get it done.  Everyone else kept telling me that during lockdown there house had never been so clean – I‘m still working, so my house was much the same as always.  Not having a clean house added to my state of anxiety.

I also listened to podcasts.  I’m an addict, but as I’d been busy of late I have a huge backlog of podcasts to listen too.  That too was adding to the anxiety.  I listened to over 10 hours today – only another 40 hours left to go (not to mention the new ones popping into my feed).  These podcasts are a lot of the BBC Radio 4 programmes from the UK, but also stuff from NPR (US), ABC (Australia) and Radio New Zealand. There’s a good mix of subjects – arts, politics, science, general interest and of course Corona virus podcasts.

I knitted. Another project that I’ve got round to during lockdown.  Cushion covers. I’m running out of wool but thankfully the knitting shop has just been registered as an essential service so I have new wool on the way (I hope).

I read. Just started “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins.  I’ve read about the controversy but want to see for myself.

Normally i would go for a walk and/or do a yoga session via the on-demand service my gym runs (and has allowed us to access for free for 60 days).  But with all the cleaning I didn’t feel the need today.

What has changed regarding your job and/or your family life?

I’m now working from home.  Next week will be week four. I can do my job from home and am well set up for communication with others.  I’ve set up a desk in my spare room.  I miss the company of my colleagues.

My flatmate is a teacher.  She’s also at home.  When we locked down schools went on Easter break the next week so she has been on holiday for most of the lockdown period.  She returns to teaching Spanish and French next week – online – for a private girls school that is feeling the financial pinch as it no longer has boarders.

My extended family

My family is based in the UK.  I am single with no children; my parents and sister live in Manchester, my dad’s brother lives on the Lincolnshire coast.

My parents and my uncle worry me.  The UK has a much worse situation than we are in New Zealand and I can do nothing to help, nor could I go to them if things got worse as we have no flights leaving New Zealand. My dad has a lung condition, my mum has the first stages of dementia, my uncle who lives alone had prostate cancer two years ago. Luckily my sister is well and is shopping for my parents who self-isolated about 4 weeks ago.  My uncle has a neighbour getting groceries for him.

What worries you, what makes you happy?

I guess not knowing how this will progress worries me.  I was worried about my parents lack of preparedness with my mum’s dementia before this started.  Now with my dad’s health being a real risk for Covid-19 I am even more nervous as my mum would need to go into care and care homes are not accepting people.

I worry when I’ll be able to see them again as New Zealand talks about closing its borders for a long time. When I next get to see them – will my mum still recognise me?

Work continues to be very busy and I worry about getting everything I need to get done.  Not a new worry but it’s harder to share the load.

I worry about money as I still have a mortgage and concerned about job security as in my mid-fifties that’s more worrying than when you are younger and can easily get a new job – all this is made worse by the current situation.  But I am lucky that my job is not as affected as others are – so maybe I’m no worse off than I was.  I’m still getting paid as per usual.

What makes me happy – simple things – reading, movies, friends, travel, tramping (hiking), snowboarding, watching football and cricket, knitting, yoga, crosswords and other puzzles, listening to radio and podcasts.

My individual view on this situation

I’ve been really encouraged that most people are doing what the experts have told us to do – stay inside and in our bubbles.  We locked down early in New Zealand and as a consequence have not seen death on the scales of China, Europe and the US. We appear to have strong and pragmatic leadership and that is a great comfort.

But we are getting bored.  People want to know when we’ll go back to our level 3 of the lockdown scale. Businesses are putting on pressure to reduce the scale of restrictions.  As with all countries, we are worried about the effect on our economy.

I think we need to be patient – reducing the level of restrictions may mean we go back to square one. I’d like us to gradually extend the list of essential businesses and control the level of curtailment from the centre.  When we last had individual choice over what was essential or not – we all thought we were exceptions and so people didn’t change their behaviours much.

I think we should continue to work at home as much as we can. But feel that having children at home for too much longer may be a real problem – however once children circulate then so many bubbles will be burst.

I’m sad we can’t travel, but recognise this is important.  My sister and I had booked a trip to Vietnam (and then I had an extra week in Cambodia) in August this year.  We will cancel this once the airlines cancel our flights and give us refunds.  We both needed a rest and time to relax – but this is a minor issue in light of everything else.

I hope we learn that we function as communities and not as individuals whose impacts are self-contained.  But I fear that won’t be the case as we will forget and when we are short of time, then thinking of others will go further down our to do lists.

I do worry that it will turn into a blame game – politically and financially – and fear the economic downturn will drive behaviours that disadvantage those with the least – much the same as happened with the financial crisis of 2008.

I hope we see people pull together for the environment – but fear that monetary issues will be more dominant when we seek a way to recover.

But most of all I hope for a vaccine and that anti-vaxers no longer put communities at danger.  This hope extends to wanting people to begin to value experts again and not look to personalities as the most important people – and no longer elect officials because they’d seen them on TV.