It’s been a few quiet weeks at home for us, with the level 4 lockdown lasting for two weeks and then moving to level 3 on 1 September (basically level 4 with takeaways for us!).
Tomorrow, on 8 September, we move down to level 2 with schools and hobbies resuming. Auckland remains in level 4, but the case numbers are plateauing now – with the daily average of new cases being around 20. The main location of community cases has centred on Auckland 824 (138 of whom have recovered); with Wellington recording 17 (eight of whom have recovered).
Over the lockdown period there’s been a huge increase in the number of vaccinations countrywide, with 62% of the eligible population (aged 12 plus) having received one dose and 32% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, as of midnight 6 September.
Bookings for Managed Isolation and Quarantine places (MIQ) have been shut since 23 August, causing incredible stress to NZ citizens overseas that are desperately trying to secure a place. There are thousands of ‘grounded Kiwis’ wanting to return to NZ, some to see sick and dying relatives, others to live permanently or to return after having been overseas for work or study.
There are also many people, like myself, wanting to leave NZ to see a sick relative, but leaving without any certainty around when they’ll be able to return to New Zealand. I leave on 24 September to travel to the UK, to see my dear Dad and sister who have been going through an incredibly hard couple of months, since my dear Mum – with late stage Alzheimer’s disease – was rushed into hospital with an infection and is now in a nursing home, completely bed bound.
I just really want to be there, to hold her hand and tell her how much she is loved. This may be the last time I ever see her.
I have felt sick in the stomach at being on the opposite side of the world to them at this difficult time. I kept trying to secure a place in MIQ before booking at flight to visit them, but every attempt was a failure. In the end, after much discussion with my dear husband and three children, the decision was made that I should go, even though I could be away for months. It is incredibly hard to leave without knowing when I’ll be back.
I really hope that the New Zealand government will soon permit vaccinated returnees to self isolate in their homes, with pre-departure and on arrival testing. At least I am able to enter the UK, whereas thousands of NZ citizens, in the same situation as me, are powerless to break through the fortress that NZ has become, with so few quarantine spaces and a terrible booking system.
Anyway, enough of this doom and gloom! How has our lockdown been?! Well, it’s been the usual of feeling a little discombobulated in the first week and then getting into a groove in the second week, though everyone misses their usual routines.
Hubby has carried on working, oldest daughter has been setting herself crafting projects and working on her application to Melbourne Uni for 2o22, Miss 15 has been baking and doing some online schooling (hasn’t been much, as they were supposed to be doing mock exams and then lockdown commenced!), youngest has been chatting with friends, doing art projects and learning her lines for a November performance of William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, playing the part of ‘Mark Antony’ in the SGCNZ’s ‘Primarily Playing with Shakespeare’ event, performing with her home-school drama group.
Board games have been dusted off, there’s been baking and dabbling with online exercise workouts (hubby even tried yoga!). Daily walks with our dog have been enjoyed, in mostly fine weather, along with skateboard sessions.
I was doing some water colour painting in the first week of level 4 lockdown, but lost my mojo after that.
I’ve been feeling pretty flat to be honest, what with thinking about my Mum in the UK. I’ve tried really hard to keep active, with some online yoga classes, strength and stability workouts to help further my ankle’s recovery and daily walks. I managed to knock out my first 10km since my injury in March (and then had to dial back for a week and a half afterwards due to my ankle complaining again!).
Nevertheless, I did manage 154km total in August, up 44km on July, so whether walking, jogging, or running, I am moving more and my ankle is definitely getting stronger with increasing mobility… it’s just happening at a snail’s pace! Most of my runs have been short, no more than 5km, and on a treadmill, where I don’t have to think about wearing a mask and dodging people. I often put the iPad on a stand in front of the treadmill, so I can watch something whilst I’m jogging (otherwise I’d lose interest after 1km!).
For our daily walks I am so grateful for beautiful scenery on the doorstep, especially given we can’t travel out of our local area in lockdown level 3 & 4.
A silver lining of lockdown has been more time to read, and I’m half way through the epic 1,006 pages of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (which I must finish before I fly to the UK, as I’ll be travelling light!).
It’s felt hard to have been plummeted so suddenly into a lockdown after enjoying complete freedoms of life for the past year. I’ve really felt for my middle daughter, in her first year of NCEA’s and really enjoy life at the local high school. I particularly feel for the people of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, who are locked down in level 4 for another week at least. It’s a shame our vaccine rollout couldn’t have come earlier in the year, but to be honest I’m not sure the uptake would have been as quick. People’s perspective has definitely shifted knowing the virus is in the community.
Here’s hoping for a continuing drop in case numbers in Auckland, continued positive momentum with the vaccine rollout and the thought of less restrictive borders to come as we near the end of 2021.
Details on restrictions at alert level 2 in New Zealand
Managed Isolation and Quarantine in New Zealand
Covid-19: Vaccine data | Ministry of Health NZ
Current cases in NZ of Covid-19