Lockdown in Queenstown, NZ

In NZ, the ‘stay home’ order came sooner than anticipated. Just over a week ago Jacinda Ardern announced that, for at least 4 weeks, NZ would lock down. This means that venturing out of the house is limited to exercise within the local neighbourhood –only with people in your household ‘bubble’ - and making solitary trips to the supermarket. No cafes, no take ways, no gatherings.

In Queenstown, there was panic. Phone lines completely jammed. People rushed supermarkets and hardware stores. Businesses quickly applied for government subsidies. Others immediately folded.

Then...calm. From day one, the unmistakable sound of lockdown in our neighbourhood is silence.

There are upsides. After lockdown, uncertainty was replaced with a sense of national purpose and unity. The demands of everyday life also plummeted. No school lunches or activities. Much more time for exercise and family. Time to do the jobs we’ve been putting off. Lots of very happy dogs. In some ways, it’s relaxing.

For those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home, work has also continued with few hiccups. The shift to home offices and Zoom meetings happened overnight, without obvious fallout.

But there are challenges. Today is Day 8 and keeping track of the day of the week, getting kids out of bed before midday (it is school holidays here) and finding creative ways to fill time is becoming difficult. The days can feel mundane – and, at times, working from home with the kids is a trial. There is also speculation that the lockdown will be extended, especially in Queenstown, where the COVID case load is rising…

People also have more time to think about the future and, in Queenstown, which has a tourism driven economy, the future feels very uncertain.

Yet, for now, the future is on hold and most people remain positive. The only thing to do is hunker down, enjoy having more time, make the most of the sunshine, connect online and take each day as it comes…

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.