Level 1 move: social life dreams for some; worry for vulnerable

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The future move to alert level 1 will see many breathe a sigh of relief at a return to normal life, but there are fears it will put immunocompromised people in danger.

Crowd of people with raised arms dancing in night club

Dancing as part of a group without worrying about social distancing will be among signs New Zealand is returning to normal life again, one Wellingtonian says. Photo: 123RF

The rules announced yesterday mean that while the border remains closed, essentially all other rules and restrictions end.

That means no more physical distancing requirements or restrictions on gathering sizes.

For many it can’t come soon enough.

In Wellington’s Island Bay, Katy O’Leary said the country was ready to go to level 1 now.

“I’ve been following the case numbers pretty closely and it has kind of felt a little bit like we’ve been overdoing it for a week or so.”

Over the road, Lindsay said the country was ready for a return to a bit more freedom.

And the return to normalcy will allow the return of some beloved pastimes.

George Busby said he was “ready to get back on the party scene” and to head out to some concerts.

Helena May said she also could not wait for a bit more normal nightlife.

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“It will just be nice to … dance as a group again without having to be two metres away from each other.”

O’Leary said it was all about travel for her.

“[I’m] feeling very confident that I can go anywhere in the country carefree.”

There will still need to be contact tracing, and the prime minster said people still needed to follow the golden rules: stay home if you are sick, wash your hands regularly and disinfect shared surfaces, and cough and sneeze into your elbow.

Many think New Zealanders have taken this message to heart.

May said she was much more aware of not coughing or sneezing everywhere, and Busby said people would now automatically stick to the hygiene lessons learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Closeup of woman applying soap while washing hands in basin with open tap. Mature woman washing hands for cleanliness purpose. Lady rubbing hands filled with soap.

People are more aware of good hygiene since the Covid-19 pandemic started, some people say. Photo: 123RF

Worries for some households

But Kiki Van Newtown is not convinced.

She has family members that are immunocompromised, and fears people will quickly revert to bad hygiene habits that endanger her family’s safety.

“We haven’t actually had long enough time to form these good habits to ensure that people continue [them].

“For most people that I know who have kids who are immune deficient we all sort of feel like physically distancing … went out the window with level 2 anyway.

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“And now we are … making plans as a community on how to keep ourselves safe.”

Her family will stay in isolation for a few more weeks in case there is an outbreak.

Some people acted like they were invincible, but Newtown said they need to understand they could easily end up in a situation like her family’s.

“You are one viral infection from having an auto-immune disorder – that could [happen to] anyone.

“I don’t think there is a real understanding as a society of how temporary physical [health] can be.”

Cabinet will decide on Monday whether the country will drop to alert level 1 and when the change will be made.

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