Day 3: Leaving the Neighbourhood

lucy sparrow 80s style felt supermarket

Lucy Sparrow‘s 80s themed felt supermarket


Lockdown Day 3: Supermarket carpark.


Flatmate has designated himself Retriever of Supplies. I am sitting in the car at Countdown in Newtown, awaiting his return. He has a black surgical-style mask to wear, gifted by his girlfriend on the last day before lockdown begun, as they stood 2 metres apart while saying goodbye. Her flat was in possession of an unopened box of masks, purchased on a trip to Japan a while back – treasure!

How long until there will be another flight to Japan?

Sitting in the car, clinging to a bottle of hand sanitizer for comfort, I wonder what it feels like inside the supermarket. A brightly-lit battlefield, an invisible enemy. We are untrained soldiers, adjusting to a new normal, praying that the isolation and physical distancing and obsessive cleaning will be enough to prevent the health system from being broken by Covid-19. If at least 90% of us obey the new rules, we have a chance.


Fingers crossed‘ by Jenna Russelle


The numbers are intimidating. Even if everyone does what they should, our intensive care beds are projected to be entirely full once the virus ripens in the already-infected¬† over the next few weeks. And this is AFTER increasing our ICU capacity by 40%, which has made necessary the postponement of many “non-urgent” services in the health system. How long before anyone can get elective surgery again? Everything has changed.

Half of the people pulling up in the car park are wearing some kind of face mask, myself included. Authorities say these aren’t necessary, and I don’t disbelieve them. It’s a peace of mind thing, a soothing-anxiety thing, a “what the fuuuuuuuck is going on??!!!” thing.

We’re all trying to adjust the best we can. Going outside of our home bubble and into the wider world brings a heavy weight, as it should.

How many people are going to die from this thing?

How will this virus change us? What will the post-pandemic world look like?





Home from supermarket. My flatmate said everyone was respecting the physical distancing rules – 2m away from other people at all times, unless that person is part of your Bubble – and it’s calm and quiet inside.

I feel for the staff, having to work through all of this; I hope that the safety measures put in place are enough to protect them. There is staggered entry, increased cleaning, tall plastic shields in front of the checkout counters. My mum is a supermarket manager and I am learning to live with the fear of her being exposed, and still have moments of overwhelm and terror about the risk.

I wish she could stay at home. Most of us are at home now, since Level four initiated.

Only essential services are operational: those involved in getting people fed, keeping them safe, and giving them medical treatment. Everyone who works anywhere else must stay at home, on the order of the government, to try to prevent the spread of the virus. We are trying to buy enough time to make a vaccine.

It seems likely that we’ll be under some form of lockdown until then, longer than 12 months, unless a miracle happens.

The whole country was shut down in the space of a week, for an initial period of four weeks (it’ll be longer, though). Thankfully, our government acted early – no one has died here yet. There is a nightmare happening overseas – especially in the United States, Italy and Spain – and they are doing everything possible to try to prevent the same fate for New Zealand.

The swift imposition of Level 4 has given our medical system a window in which to prepare for the avalanche of Covid-19 hospitalisations that will come. ICU capacity is being increased as much and as fast as possible. Our health system has been underfunded, by both Labour and National governments, for 30 years: the rubber hitting the road is going to be very painful, if the lockdown doesn’t reduce infection rates enough – if/when we hit 40,000 cases, we’re in serious trouble.

We are all praying for our doctors and nurses. There are rumblings of PPE shortages, but the government is assuring everyone that doctors and nurses here won’t be faced with running out of protective equipment, which has been a frightening issue overseas.¬†

All most of us can do is wait, and hope that community transmission doesn’t become wide spread. Stay at home, stay at home, stay at home.

I miss the smell of the sea breeze.