Life in Lock Down: Day 7

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

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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.

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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.”

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

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This blogpost will be re-published on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Brilliant as always Frank. I think a few posters on the daily blog may want to rethink the message about opening up the economy again given the Skittles diagram. Quick to attack Jacindas take on saving lives ahead of the economy,yet would not be in line to taste a poisoned skittle.

    • Thanks, Bert. Yes, I thought that meme was very appropriate!

      The pro-opening-economy faction should understand one thing with clarity: opening the economy means opening pathways of transmission for the virus.

      In which case we better be ready for a death toll in three, four figures. Maybe more.

      I cannot fathom how people have not taken onboard lessons from Iran, Spain, Italy and the United States. Do they think we are somehow immune to the virus? I have bad news for them.

      Stay safe, mate!

  2. Such a shame here in Moorefield Road between jville and khandallah. Day one very little traffic now it’s almost back to normal excluding rush hours. Going for a walk you can’t get onto the road to avoid people walking towards you like you could on day one. I live on the main road and hear cars constantly going past all day. Maybe the police need to start stopping cars as I’m sure they’re not all essential workers or needing the supermarket. Every day road is busier than the last day.

    • We could take the Philippine approach and just shoot them!
      I’m sure that may get the desired approach, however it would give the gun lobbyists all they need to be relevant.

  3. Nice post, and quite appreciated.

    I think we may live not far from each other – no I won’t bother looking further. I do appreciate seeing what we used to see many years back but seldom do today – kids and families out on bikes together, people out walking together. With luck, and some effort, aside from a chance to reset our society and our financial/trade priorities we will also see families drawn a lot closer together, and stronger communities as a result have having few to talk to but our neighbours across the fence.

    I must say your pictures of Vivian St were something of a shock to me. I am not there often but I don’t think I can ever recall seeing it so quiet. Even at the quietest times I’ve travelled that road there’s always been at least a dozen vehicles close to me, hiding anything else that maybe ahead or behind. I don’t recall ever being on it and not being aware there must be at least a hundred other vehicles along it’s length. Maybe on some late-night visits to Wellington Hospital there’s been less.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I won’t agree with all of your posts but this one I definitely appreciate.

Comments are closed.