One year ago today, New Zealand identified the first Covid 19 positive case. I've kept a timeline of dates pertinent to me, because it's become hard to remember, and from time to time we forget the Plague still exists beyond our borders. Then from time to time we have been pulled back into reality when community cases emerge in Auckland and the rest of us must also return to a mild alert level.
After two days of Alert Level 2 and three of 3, during which time virtually nobody had had time to learn of these levels and rules were still being revised, we entered Alert Level 4 restrictions on March 26, which lasted 33 days. This was followed by Level 3, (which in the greater scheme of things, is 4-lite, the main difference being domestic travels,) for 16 days.
On May 14, we moved to Level 2, the hardest to pinpoint and from observations easiest to ignore, for 26 days. On June 9, we moved to Level 1, which is life back to normal within the borders, except the common-sensical precautions such as washing hands, recording your whereabouts, and staying home when sick. My days/numbers may be a little off, but all and all we spent 75 days in an out-of-the-ordinary way.
In August a community transmission case was discovered in Auckland, putting them in Level 3, then 2.5 then 2, while the rest of us in Level 2 for 39 days. This month there was another community transmission cluster in Auckland, placing them in Level 3 and then 2, while the rest of us were in Level 2 for 3 days. The latest Auckland cluster is still alive, with one of the new strains, but there is better understanding and tracking, faster and greater/flexible testing, management is more incremental/local, so we have not been unnecessarily placed in dire levels.
Ben went back to work on January 11. (Then he took a Monday off at the end of the month; two Mondays that followed were public holidays; then came the February Level 3 a week later.) Somewhere between January 11 and the last couple of weeks, we've really come to realize our Year of a Plague was truly over. We still pay attention to the government announcements and daily numbers, (we have a few at the border every week,) but feel so far removed from it all.
My life has adopted a new rhythm, too; utterly unrushed, much fewer items on the to do list if I have one for the day/week, but somehow getting a couple of things done most days, and projects being finished eventually. It's not exciting, weeks go by without a denouemont, but if this is the new pattern, I can live with it.
One thing I noticed is more so than last year, I'm getting the years confused, regarding things we did and places we went in 2018 and 2019, the only surety being we didn't do/go them in 2020.
Shots arrived this week, from memory, and border workers including those who service the hotels used as quarantine facilities were among the first to receive them, with other essential workers next in line. My nemesis the Top Doc, Jacinda, and others in suits await their tern, but Jacinda may do it on camera to appeal the safety of the shots. I have no idea when we'll get ours, but everybody who is in New Zealand regardless of their immigration status will get it, free, so sooner or later our turn will come. But at the same time, the necessity for these shots don't feel so dire.
There is one other thing I wanted to record: in speaking to many of my friends, I've discovered I was not the only person who enjoyed the lockdown. Older women, (I hope it's OK to categorize them all as such,) still working or retired, in general enjoyed very much just staying home, cooking, reading, tidying or getting stuck into projects, and "not having to be somewhere," is a phrase I heard repeatedly. Some learned to Skype/zoom, others discovered other new things on the Internet. I don't know if their lives reverted to how it was, and I can't tell you about me because I've lived a Level 2.5 life for the last several years.
This is where it's at for me on this first anniversary. We still scan, I have to wash my hands the Plague way once a week so as not to forget. Ben carries a mask often. But this week we even used up the last of the dried garbanzo beans we stocked a year ago, leaving us with no more lockdown purchases.
Take care of yourselves and yours.
EDIT: after I wrote this post, last night Jacinda announced Auckland would go back to Level 3 starting 6AM this morning, the rest of us Level 2, for seven days, due to new cases from the February cluster. At least some folks tested negative multiple times before testing positive; the origin and the strain is still unknown but suspected to be one of the new ones; a high school and now a polytechnic are involved, the high school principal showing exemplary cooperation; there may be rules non-compliance increasing spread and complicating tracing; some folks work near or in connection to the airport; and folks are angry with what one media personality gleefully calls "yoyoing". We are still in this game.