26 May 2020

On the second week of Level 2 Lockdown

I have actually started going to work already last week. Also, we went to Level 2 lockdown last week and schools have opened. So it made sense for me to go back to the office as well. However, to ensure that there is business continuity, I'm alternating between working from home and reporting to work on a weekly basis.

Prior to going to work, I managed to grow 7 weeks' worth of facial hair. I've never grown facial hair this long so I took a photo for posterity's sake before shaving it off. If my beard or moustache were a bit thicker, I would have considered retaining one or the other, but it's a bit all over the place, so it had to go. It was fun while it lasted. Surprisingly, it wasn't itchy at all. My cheeks would itch when I let my facial hair grow but not this time around.

Not surprisingly, there weren't a lot of people in the train going to and from work so social distancing wasn't that much of a challenge. And the bonus? Bus and train fare is free! There's also lots of vacant spaces in the free parking right next to the train station. So it's pretty obvious that there are still lots of people who are working from home... or worse, they don't have a job to return to?

So under Level 2, gatherings of 10 or less were permitted. Yesterday, the government announced that this Friday, gatherings of 100 people will be allowed. We haven't had new cases for the past few days (with the exception of 1 yesterday I think and it was related to a cluster) so some restrictions are being relaxed. It's really good news because it means the curve has well and truly been flattened. We just hope that relaxing restrictions will not results in a second wave.

Winter has come. It was especially cold a couple of days ago. So seeing frost on the ground and on parked cars was a grim reminder of freezing weather ahead. I have started rearranging some stuff in the house so I can make room for potted succulents outside the house. Last year when my father passed away, it was winter time (July) and while I was in limbo I neglected my outdoor cacti and succulent collection. When I went to the garden to check up on them, some were already beyond recovery. I lost one of my favourites, the Desert Rose, which was growing especially well before winter but it succumbed to the cold and wet weather. I'm looking for a replacement until now.

My daughter still hasn't resumed going back to her swimming lessons, piano lessons, and gym. While she's now going back to school, we're still trying to manage her exposure to other people. Actually I'm not sure if her extra-curricular activities have opened already. There's other things we need to take care of, activities that paused while on L4 and L3 lockdown.

Discussions on whether the country can downgrade to L1 will happen a month from now. Currently borders are still shut, but there are talks on extending our bubble with Australia.

I hope you and your family are doing ok in these uncertain times.

28 April 2020

Day 1 of Level 3 Lockdown

Today, we start Level 3 Lockdown. The month-long Level 4 was extended over the long weekend to 33 days, and ended yesterday, ANZAC Monday.

The days seem to overlap each other, and when it's a long weekend it becomes even trickier to realise whether it's a working day or not. Not that I'm complaining. I was grateful for that extra day of rest as I work full time still.

Overall, New Zealand is faring quite well in the battle against COVID-19. These past few days, we've had single digit cases. Today, we have 3 new cases, 2 confirmed and 1 probable. There have been 19 deaths so far, sadly most are from the vulnerable people from rest homes.

This graph is from The Spinoff. There have been more recoveries as it appears we have flattened the curve.

Level 3 lockdown will last for 2 weeks. While school is open, only kids of essential workers who cannot work from home can attend. So it's home schooling for our 2 kids in the meantime. Businesses will start to open today, but with distancing measures in place, and most are for deliveries or pick-ups only. We're still pretty much being asked to stay at home and keep to our immediate contacts only.

We did another grocery run mid-last week and my wife said supplies are ok. The shelves don't look sparse. Although baking goods are still in high demand. Flour, especially, is hard to come by. At least that's more understandable now as people while the time away by baking. The demand for tissue paper at the start of Level 4 lockdown still boggles the mind.

We are officially in the middle of Autumn, so the days are getting shorter. At the start of lockdown, I still managed to get a couple of hours gardening after work. But now, at 6pm the sun is well on its way to settling in for the night. I would have wanted more time after work to do things outside and around the house.

We've started watching anime with my 2 kids in the evenings. We finished the first season of Dr Stone, and since the second season is still being worked on, we've started with Mob 100. My wife has taken interest in baking, and so we've had some nice morning and afternoon tea breaks lately.

After this post, I'm going back to my list of things to order and get delivered from the local warehouse. Here's to hoping I can get some time to work on other stuff.

20 April 2020

Day 26 of lockdown due to COVID-19

Actually, day 26 hasn't really started yet as I write this blog post in bed at 6am.

In my last post, we were in the middle of the Holy Week. I decided to take a break and spend the time with the family and also do some odd jobs around the house.

With the country under lockdown, travel was prohibited and all (save for essential workers) were housebound. But it's Holy Week, and really that's how I was taught to observe it when I was a kid in the 70s in the Philippines.

There was no cable TV back then, no internet, no mobile phones. Starting Maundy Thursday, broadcast stations shut down for the weekend. When you turn on the TV, you would see white noise and nothing else. We couldn't play outside because it's prohibited to make noise and laughter; the elders would say if we get injured, it will take a long time to heal. Come Friday, TV stations would start broadcasting, but only for the Seven Last Words, and also Easter programmes and religious movies. Sunday is when everyone celebrates. And for us kids, relief that Easter has finally arrived and that we can play and watch TV again!

As public gatherings were still banned, we celebrated Easter mass online at Vatican. This is actually the first time we have tuned in to Vatican TV, and we wondered if they are always broadcasting. We have attended online mass a number of times since.

We saw some Easter messages in windows as we took our midday stroll.

Easter egg hunts are a huge thing here in NZ. Kids took part in hunts held in their own homes. This is not a usual tradition in our home, so it's no surprise that we forgot to buy some when we did our groceries.

One of our more memorable walks is our night stroll. It was quite a lovely day with no wind and the evening wasn't too chilly. We tarried a bit so we started quite late but it made the walk quite different from our usual.

The number of cases here has dropped quite significantly. On a couple of days, we just had single-digit new cases. Yesterday was one of them, with 9 new cases. The downside is that the total number of deaths has risen to 12. Today at 4pm, the Prime Minister will decide whether we will downgrade the alert level to 3 mid-week.

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