Life in Lock Down: Day 9

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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“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 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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12 COMMENTS

  1. Personally I think it’s completely fair for a single green keeper to do some basic work in complete isolation not unlike a farmer working on their property to maintain feed for stock etc

    • The question then becomes, Lykkyl, who else should be afforded an exemption?

      After a while the lock down has so many holes in it that it’s futile.

      Sorry, I’ve yet to be convinced that golfing (a predominantly middle class activity) is “essential”.

      • Sorry, I’ve yet to be convinced that golfing (a predominantly middle class activity) is “essential”.

        I am not a golfer, but I gained an insight into some clubs through work done from time to time. The point here is yes, the clubs themselves need to be closed for the duration of lockdown, of course. But greens maintenance, as Lykkyl notes, can be carried out safely by one or two solitary green-keepers. That would carry no risk to anyone.

        And, the cost of not maintaining the greens may well mean the loss of the entire golf course for some clubs, and the expenditure of a small fortune to restore any that may be saved further down the track. To me it’s a no-brainer, to allow ongoing maintenance.

        Also, for some cooped-up city workers, their golfing is just about the only thing that keeps them same and free from depression, so I’ve been told. So, their longer term viability should be seen as a social asset, imo.

      • So if poor people played golf it would be OK but because it is done by mainly working people that need to relax at the weekend it is not vital. As with most thinks there are always consequences to any action and if if those consequences are based on some perceived class system it is wrong.
        A small amount of work by a single grounds man could save millions in repair work down the track. We will get through this and many will need a mental stress release that comes from a round of golf.

  2. “…one of only two police cars I see throughout the entire day.” This does not mean that there has been no police presence out and about on the streets.

    The police in Wellington- and I daresay other locations – have some unmarked cars. Ask them. I’ve ridden in one. Ask the eastern suburbs Muslim Community where the young guys know the cars by sight -I assume that gang members do too. Some older people also seem to, perhaps through various community work.

    My local Wellington area supermarkets have well-spaced very long permanent queues leading through the mall, and out along the street. I’ve accessed a local dairy instead, where only one customer is allowed in the shop at a time, the queue is very short, and entirely out on the street, rather than a long wait in an enclosed mall. The dairy shopkeeper always wears a mask and gloves, as do I. I don’t know about the supermarket workers’ protective gear as I’ve not been in one for two weeks – but I do worry about them, as I know them, mainly students, all rather nice people.

    I hope they’re being treated ok. Before the close-down, a bank teller told me that 50% of her daily clients are rude.

    Some govt call centres are located in the CBD, and I know the main MSD city call centre is staffed mainly by workers from out of Wellington – so much so, that the annual children’s Christmas party is held at Porirua.
    These will account for some of the cars coming into Wellington and making people suspicious.

    As noted before, many of the front line Wellington police don’t live in Wellington and they have to travel in from the north. Some park in the Spotlight car park on Thorndon Quay and walk into the city from there.

    Whanau tell me that apparently Victoria University students are now offering a free shopping service – and possibly other help too – like broken branches – I’ve just pushed one back in behind its mother tree, and am processing garden debris.

    • ” This does not mean that there has been no police presence out and about on the streets.

      The police in Wellington- and I daresay other locations – have some unmarked cars. ”

      Yes, I’m aware of that as well, SW. But considering I travel 40+ k’s to work, you’d expect to see more out and about? They may be spread thinly, who knows.

      The two constables patrolling Oriental Bay were a great, visible sign of presence. Hopefully it not only stops unacceptable behaviour, but installs confidence. That is the point of my, hopefully, constructive criticism.

      • The cop car that recorded me going 6kms an hour over the speed limit in Happy Valley Road – where the sl changes at least 4 times – was apparently a plain car, which more knowledgeable people than me may have recognised. My neighbours seem to.

        They’re out there though – another neighbour’s partner is – they’re fairly whacked, worried about their small children; I’ve consistently supported having the NZDF on check points, but see the value in having unmarked cars, which can nab the idiots who put everyone else at risk – not just with this. I saw it done to a dangerous driver outside a takeaway shop and he was extremely angry about the plain car that got him.

  3. Turf industry is unique. When you’re dealing with a living organism ie plants or animals…hey guess what – they don’t stop growing. There’s not many other industries where one person in an isolated natural environment can prevent thousands of dollars of repairs. Stock will still be there on shelves when we level level 4 and yes a lot of jobs will be lost but turf staff losses would be needless. Golf and Bowls play a huge part in NZ’s recreation particularly for seniors and venues will taking more than a few weeks to get back to spec….but you said we’ll be ok so you must be qualified.

Comments are closed.