A guest post by a reader:
Having this week arrived back from nearly 3 months overseas, and being promptly bussed down to Hamilton where our allotted MIQ spot was assigned, I thought readers may like a little ‘inside information’ and to consider these points:
- Travelling back from London, on a plane with just 49 passengers, with several of whom we then shared a 2 hour bus ride to Hamilton, the reasons bringing people through MIQ were widespread and genuine. Here are a few:
- A professional family emigrating from Europe to Gisborne
- A Kiwi sport professional returning to NZ to live with his large family after over a decade playing overseas
- A businessman who deals with many sites overseas, who felt his customers no longer understood or had patience any longer for NZ’s arms-length approach, and he just had to get over there in person for 6 weeks to avoid losing business
- Several solo younger kiwis, returning for various periods, some open ended, some re-immigrating and some for fixed terms.
And of course others.
Our own reason for travelling was that our 3 grown children and young grandchildren live in London and all adults are involved in demanding jobs. All have had degrees of mental ill health during the last 18 months due to their own lock-down circumstances. We are a close family and they normally come home annually for renewal. It was damaging them not to be able to link with home, as their Christmas holidays only amount to 2 weeks, meaning the MIQ rule denies them access. We visited several adult children of friends whilst there, for the same reason, and from all young kiwis, received the same message; that they feel excluded by their own country and very let down.
- So to MIQ itself… there is obviously a considerable diversity of offerings and a considerable diversity of hardship being inflicted. Some of our fellows in lockdown, with families, managed to communicate their needs adequately through the site. In one case though, a mother and daughter with a baby, were interpreted as a couple and given a room with one double bed. But our MIQ is far from the toughest. The main Facebook sites (New Zealand Hotel Quarantine, and MIQ: New Zealand Managed Isolation and Quarantine) show whole families in tiny rooms. In some of the Auckland hotels, exercise is for half an hour timetabled, and they can only walk as fast as the slowest walker to maintain social distance. In at least one case, the exercise yard is in a car parking building so inmates see no sun at all in their 14 day lockdown. In some the food is wonderful. In others, rather awful, and in our case, there is little option for variation. For example, we are only able to obtain salads by buying them in, even though we are paying thousands to be locked up.
- The whole scenario of this lock up idea, is, for me at least, a lot harder to stomach than I expected. For me to have my liberty curtailed, to be guarded day and night by police, army personnel in uniform and security personnel in uniform (always visible, day and night – surprisingly large contingents) sticks in my craw. To have our own army and police turned against the freedom of our own citizens seems to be as unconscionable now as I found it when Muldoon turned the police on peaceful protesters during the Springbok tour of 1981.
Additional to this large incarceration team, there is a substantial team of nurses and counsellors, at least five at my count, for some 80 odd inmates including children. This may be some indication of the mental and general health damage that is being inflicted by this draconian approach, predicated on a misdirected belief that we can live without Covid going forward. In Britain they are using the expression tht Covid is now endemic not epidemic.
Each day we are telephoned by this aforementioned health team and asked the same bank of questions, including how happy we are on a scale of 10, and are we feeling irritable. Duh! To what purpose this data is collected is unclear, but it surely contains huge numbers of lies. What captive lightly tells their captors that they are unhappy and angry about their incarceration? Stockholm syndrome anyone?
- Having plenty of available time to ponder this whole business, I can think of no time in history, where the needs of the elderly have been so massively favoured directly against the needs of the young. In the time we have been back in NZ there have been sufficient numbers of high speed car crashes and deaths as to justify a hypothesis that there is massive psychological damage being rendered to the young. They are giving up schooling in substantial numbers as Alwyn Poole has described, while self-harm and suicide statistics are astronomical, not just here but overseas as well.
There is a distinct and identifiable loss of hope amongst many younger folks.
- Associated with this is the callous destruction of businesses. Having been a small business person myself, I know the risks one takes with ones capital and how destroying it can be when it all goes wrong, and in this matter, it keeps going wrong beyond reasonable expectation for so many businesses. The truth is that if you are losing sleep at night worrying over what level of freedom you may discover you possess tomorrow, you are not living in a free country.
- Having spent all of our time overseas in Britain and Spain, (where we visited our daughter in Law’s elderly relatives , all in the late seventies and eighties, and all of whom contracted Covid and recovered from it without hospitalization since they had no other co-morbidities) we have witnessed in depth, people living openly in a Covid world. We took our grandchildren to packed theatres and parks etc where mask wearing was optional. And strangely, after lockdown, people continue to look after themselves (as they see fit) without Government intervention.
We witnessed at first hand the recovery of the London underground service from light passenger numbers to rush hour crushes in the time we were there, and again, about two thirds of the passengers continued to wear masks though it is no longer mandated.
Are we as Kiwis, unable to be trusted with looking after our own welfare? Why are we so incapable?
- There are many more points I could make, but one final one I feel is important is the sheer anger of so many of our best and brightest young kiwis working overseas. It has always been our tradition to develop skill sets and capital overseas then later to return to NZ where the value of that experience benefits all. So many wonderful young folk we spoke to felt they had been disowned by their country and would never, now, go back. What a loss!
In conclusion I have to say that as double vaxxed Kiwis, we could easily have been tested at the border and released to self-isolate in our homes. At most a 3 day lockdown, allowing 2 tests would have sufficed to exclude the vast majority of risk.
Many times overseas we were tested with spit tests. Two of my children are supplied these by their workplaces, self-testing regularly to ensure safe workspaces. This is not a Government initiative there but a workplace initiative. But it is here, now, illegal for a company to import these tests. Why? There are clear political imperatives for a maternalistic Government to keep the population scared and controlled. But is that the country we want New Zealand to be?