Just in time! NZ – Total Lock Down from 2359, 25 March 2020
We woke in Breezy Point, New York, on the morning of 20 March to fog. I remember my offshore days when it came to your “get up and go” day and you wake to the sound of the fog horn! That meant that you would not be going anywhere that day, might as well just get up and go to work, and hope for the best for tomorrow. This morning was like that! My heart sank, no planes will fly in this I am thinking. But we better try. Diane came to pick us up and we made our way to JFK. The fog is not lifting, lets just hope they do fly. We have factored in some time between flights, our flight from LAX – AKL is not until 10pm, we have some time up our sleeve.
The flight board has many flights cancelled – but our flight looks like its still on! The man at the check in was so lovely. He knew that LA would not be our final destination today ( he guessed we were Australian – we wont hold that against him!) and assured us that our flight to LAX would go – “lets get you guys home” He said – almost brought tears to our eyes!
The flight did in fact fly and right on time. Taking off through the fog was so scary! The pilot must have great faith in his instruments, and we are very thankful for that! Its lunch time and New York is still totally blanketed in fog.
We arrived in LA with 7 hours until we take off to Auckland, so we start to relax. The young woman at check in was also very nice. You can see that everyone is feeling a bit of the pressure with whats going on. She visibly relaxed when she saw our NZ passport. We are checking in at the Air NZ counter but the NZ boarders have closed to all but NZ citizens. This flight will continue to Australia so there are a few non-NZ passport holders on the flight. She was saying that for any other passport there has to be a phone call to immigration and it seemed to be very stressful for everyone. A few raised voices at the counter beside us.
SO we are the lucky ones, no problem, straight through. It is so quiet here, JFK was as well, very few people, most of the shops closed, most of the bars closed. I love airports, there is always something to see, so many people coming and going, it’s a great place to people watch and guess what their story is. People are generally happy and excited, today it feels very different. We see some sights! One girl in a white disposable chemical suit, a couple in diving masks. We too have our masks and gloves.
When its only a couple of hours to go we decide to get a glass of wine at the bar near our gate. One of the few still open. Its always expensive to eat/drink at an airport but it is part of the fun and you always do it anyway. I think this has to be the most expensive glass of wine we have ever had at USD$14+tax each! We sat down and within 10 minutes they started packing up the bar. They had just been told they need to close – NOW! So we sat all alone, drinking this (have to admit) delicious wine, I guess we wont be having a second!
The flight was great! all 12 hours 55 minutes of it! The plane was only about half full and we were right at the back. We managed to get the four seats in the middle and were able to get some sleep. The crew were awesome. They are in one of the most vulnerable places for transmission of the virus, they are very brave and we are so thankful that they are still coming to work which is allowing people like us to get home. We have never boarded and disembarked a plane so easily, no scrum like tactics as everyone tries to stand up first to get off the plane first, great flight.
Landing in Auckland we were asked a couple of questions – Have you had a cough? Have you been feeling unwell? We were given a sheet on how to self isolate and that was that – through – home!
Tayla picked us up and we were very restrained with no hugging – just an elbow bump in way of hello. This is so strange. So wonderful to see her, we have been away for a year and it feels nice to be home.
We will be isolating at Guy and Melanie’s holiday home in Whakatane. This is a beautiful spot, right on the river. We will be able to go for walks but no visiting anyone and no visitors. This is how we started off, then within days of us being home NZ has escalated through level 3 to level 4 – total lock down for 4 weeks. The prime minister has declared a state of emergency which turns us into a country under Marshall Law. They will use police and military to enforce the rules if needed. OH Boy! It is still so hard to believe that any of this is happening.
So now the rest of the country have joined us in isolation, our 14 days will be up in 10 days time and then we just fall into place with the rest of the country, which will be no different to what we will have been doing. I feel it will be a long 4 weeks for a lot of people. Both our girls have been put off work. We will all have to get creative and find ways to spend time together without actually being together, thanks goodness for the internet eh!
Quite bizarre for us to be back in NZ but unable to see family and friends. We are treating this part as another house sit, landed in a town where we don’t know anyone, contacting friends and family back home via Messenger or WhatsApp, exploring a new place on foot. The only difference is that we are not meeting new people, and that is a bit sad, but this whole situation is a bit sad.
This is our story and it is not an unusual one. There are so many people who are affected by this crisis and we know we are not alone. We also know we are lucky to have a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards, our families and friends are safe, we are truly thankful for this. We just hope, as everyone does, that this is over soon with the least loss of life possible.