Yesterday was DAY 30 of New Zealand in lock down as we try to fight the COVID19 pandemic.
Instead of writing today, I thought I would do a bit of a photo essay so that you can see the effects of lock down through the eyes of a local.
Empty roads have become a distinct feature of my walks around Christchurch in the last few weeks. Completely devoid of traffic, the quiet has been quite startling to take in. The road in the photograph is Fendalton Road at the railway crossing. Normally at 4PM on a Friday, the traffic would be picking up as the working week comes to an end, but on this particular Friday I was able to walk straight onto the traffic island without stopping and no cars came from either direction for more than 2 minutes. Normally the cycle way next to the railway line would be busy with students heading home from school after extra curricular activities, people cycling home from work, people like me out for exercise or on their way to somewhere. It too, was largely devoid of traffic except for families with young children taking their kids out of the house for an hour.
When LEVEL 3 was declared playgrounds across the country were emptied. Local councils put tape across all features – see-saws, slides, swings, fortresses, flying foxes, skating rinks and other features. Lawns have become long and and resemble an unkempt state. At LEVEL 4, parks were completely deserted except for people exercising whilst observing strict social distancing. When the country goes back to LEVEL 3 at the end of Monday, these facilities will still be off limits for another two weeks at least.
In a moment of dystopian thinking this kind of reminded me of the television series Chernobyl, and the sudden abandonment that the city of Pripyat would have experienced. No one able to play on the swings, the slides, the see-saws or merry-go-rounds anymore. None of the useful laughter and happy playing that you’d expect from a child. COVID19 measures might be only temporary, but when you think about the potential transmission of the virus, the playground had a slight Chernobyl-esque look to it.
Today is A.N.Z.A.C. Day, the 105th Anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing in France. Normally A.N.Z.A.C. Day is marked by dawn services the length and breadth of the country, ranging from thousands of people attending services in the large cities, to a few hundred attending smaller community services in rural towns. Despite the COVID19 restrictions, on line services, and a “Stand at Dawn” service for those who want to stand at the end of their driveway was held at 6AM. I have included two photos here. The first is of chalk and paper drawings of the famous red poppy done presumably by children as an out door activity.
The second is of poppies that were most probably ordered on line. Note also, the bear next to the lower ones. This was part of an spotting activity that was started for children, but also drew in a lot of adults. The idea was if one had any fluffy bear toys, they displayed them in the window or other prominent place where children and their parents could see them.
And finally, this is a nod to the children whose fun has been put on hold for a few weeks now, and the parents who have had to get creative to find things to keep their children happy. Chalk drawings have been prolific on every walk, with the messages, drawings and their meaning only restricted by the children’s imagination.