Opinion: Lockdown reflections

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When we toasted the arrival of 2020, who would have predicted within three months a virus spread to humans, from a bat in a wet-market in provincial China, would bring the world to its knees and wreak havoc on a scale not seen for generations.

At the time of writing (Easter Sunday), there were over 1.7 million cases of Covid-19 and 108,688 deaths worldwide.

Here, in New Zealand, there were 1330 cases with 80 of those in the Queenstown Lakes district.

It’s been over two weeks of lockdown, yet it feels more like two months.

I have left my neighbourhood twice to drive to the supermarket.  I was the only car on Frankton Road.

It was eerie.

I am craving the chance to sit in a cafe sipping on a flat white.

Instead, I’m making do with coffee at home, and my banana bread recipe has been dug out of the cupboard as I join the rest of the country in the joy of baking.

Of course, others are suffering in much more confronting ways.

It must be unbearable to be prevented from saying farewell to loved ones, or to be unable to travel and see sick family members.

Here in Queenstown, the tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit hard.  It will take time and tenacity to recover.

Full credit to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for establishing economic and community task forces.  Who knows what the future will look like, but Queenstown’s success has been built on the back of visionary entrepreneurs, many of whom will drive the recovery.

It’s time for bold ideas.

Looking beyond our shores, let’s spare a thought for South Sudan, a country with 12 million people and about 20 ventilators.  New Zealand has 520 in its public hospitals.

A judge, who I greatly respect, once told a conference the mark of a good lawyer and a fair judge is the ability to see things from all points of view.

It’s a snippet of advice I have recalled many times in my legal career.

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, employer or employee, citizen or migrant worker, young or old, now is the time to realise everyone is struggling, one way or another.

Compassion and empathy are needed more than ever.

For those who still have an income, I urge you to spend some money in the community.  Plenty of our local businesses are categorised as essential services and can safely deliver to your door.

They need our support.

We’re over halfway through the lockdown, and it appears to be working.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are the faces of the government fight against Covid-19.  They are cautiously optimistic.

It is hoped we will not be the next Italy.

I’m thankful to those who are keeping things going – front-line medical staff, police, emergency services, caregivers, cleaners, supermarket workers, couriers – the list goes on.

Many of these essential workers are paid the minimum wage.  Interestingly, they are now the people we rely on most.

I’m fully aware I say this from the point of view of someone who has a roof over her head, food in her cupboard, and a supportive employer.

I don’t have the immense pressure of being a business owner, or facing redundancy.

But, there will always be another day to earn money and make your fortune … there is never another day to get your life back.

Let’s unite and stick out the lockdown.

Kia kaha, Queenstown.

Tanya Surrey is a MacTodd senior solicitor and Queenstown duty lawyer