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.
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.
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;
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.
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.”
“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.
Number of deaths: 1
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
Elemental: Hold the Line
Previous related blogposts
Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson
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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