Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Here we go again?

At an emergency press conference tonight (video above, cued to when the prime minister entered), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfied announced that there were four new cases of Covid-19 in Auckland, and there was no known source. In other words, community transmission may have arrived 102 days after the last case.

As a result, Auckland is going from Level 1 to Level 3 at midday tomorrow, Wednesday, and will remain there until midnight Friday (probably actually 11:59pm). The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 for the same time period.

Aucklanders are being asked to stay home, and schools and early childhood care are closed, except for children of essential workers. No one will be allowed to travel into or out of Auckland, unless they are returning home (and, one would imagine, are able to prove it). Police will have roadblocks to prevent unauthorised travel. As under Level 4, supermarkets, pharmacies, and petrol stations will will be open, but bars, cafes, and restaurants are to close, though contactless food delivery or take away will be permitted. Funerals and weddings are permitted, with a maximum gathering of ten people.

In the rest of New Zealand, we’re allowed to go to all shops, but we’re supposed to maintain physical distancing again, and stores are supposed to take steps to make that possible. Cafes and restaurants can open, but all customers must be seated with a single server, and they must keep records of who was there. Gatherings are limited to 100 people.

In the entire country, we’re being asked to ramp up our hand washing, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser when we can’t wash our hands properly. We’re also supposed to record our movements, especially by using the Covid Tracker App (mine isn’t currently signed in after its most recent upgrade; I’ll sort that out). For the first time, we’re being advised to wear face masks whenever we can’t practice physical distancing, especially on tight places, like on public transit.

The government activated its emergency cellphone alert system at 10:12pm tonight, but I got my alert at 11:17pm—good thing I was still awake or it would have scared the hell out of me. As if the press conference hadn’t done that already…

My greatest fear is that we’ll go back under lockdown, since I barely survived the first time. At this point, I’m not worried about Covid itself because there’s not yet evidence of widespread community transmission. But it would be foolish to dismiss the possibility that lockdown could be coming, and that would make me afraid of Covid.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going out to get some supplies for projects around house—something I didn’t do before lockdown last March, and regretted (although, as it happens, I still have some of the small projects from lockdown that I didn’t do at the time). My freezer and pantry aren’t very well stocked at the moment (I haven’t done my shopping food this week), but I could still get by for at least a week, with some of the creativity I used last time.

All of my preparations will be every bit as much a precaution as the changes to Alert Levels that the government is putting in place tomorrow, and hopefully both will turn out to be overly cautious. But I was caught out last time—I won’t risk that happening again. Besides, it gives me something to focus on instead of the possibility that things are about to become very bad.

This may be a case of “here we go again”, or it may be a case of “we dodged a bullet”, but we won’t know which it is for up to several days. Here’s hoping.


Roger Owen Green said...

Some folks in the Us seem oddly gleeful about this. "See? SEE?" I can't slap them through the monitor.

Arthur Schenck said...

Maybe you could try? Say you’re doing it for the Team of Five Million. Thing is, Americans are so disconnected from reality that they don’t even notice that the grownups are in charge here and—so far—seem to have stopped a widespread outbreak here. Unlike several US states…