Real Life

All of the tiny and not-so-tiny ways Covid-19 is affecting everyday life for everyday people

Like the virus itself, its impact has seeped into every facet of our everyday lives.

By Karyn Henger
Covid-19 - it's everywhere. It dominates every news channel, every social media channel, every conversation and for those whose health or livelihood or loved ones are impacted, quite likely every thought.
Like the very virus itself, its impact has seeped into every facet of daily life as we know it - and for some people there have been difficult and harsh consequences to deal with as a result.
I'm just an average everyday New Zealander who has not been affected directly by Covid-19 at all, yet here are all the ways it has seeped into my daily existence in the past 24 hours. You have probably experienced something similar:
  • Take my keep cup to my usual café to buy morning coffee. Am told they're no longer filling keep cups.
  • Go to pay for my petrol. The cashier won't take my AA loyalty card when I hand it over to her to scan. She says I have to scan it myself now. New company policy.
  • Receive a text from friend. She has cancelled her trip to Canada to see her daughter because of border restrictions and slashing of Air NZ international flight capacity. She's not really an emoji person but she adds a crying face emoji at end of text.
  • Facebook message from friend. Her teenage daughter has been crying all night because her rugby 7s national tournament scheduled for the end of the month has been cancelled. So have her rugby tours to New Caledonia and the US. Her daughter had saved most of the money for the trips herself from her after-school jobs (several thousand dollars) and won't get a full refund.
  • New Facebook message from friend. Her daughter has just found out her school ball has also been cancelled. It's been a rough 24 hours for her, with the year ahead shaping up to be one of missed-out-on opportunities.
  • Latest email update from my daughter's school, Westlake Girls High School. It's business as usual at school. Both parents of one student have tested positive for Covid-19 and are in self-isolation. The student is also in isolation. The school wants to express its disappointment at the rumours circulating that the student is back in class. I am waiting for them to advise me that my daughter's school ball has been cancelled too. She already had her dress picked out.
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  • News notifications right now on my desktop: France is considering complete lockdown. Spain deploys army to airports. UK faces oxygen crisis. Spain sees another 1000 coronavirus cases. Wales confirms its first coronavirus death.
  • Receive a text from my neighbour. "Glad we went to Coatesville market on Sunday," she writes. "Will be our last market for a while." She jokes that she's going to get back into reading.
  • Hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes have popped up outside bathroom entrances at work.
  • Email from Countdown to notify customers that there is no need to stock up on extra supplies because they're keeping their shelves well stocked. They have put extra cleaning and sanitising measures in place for staff and are installing hand sanitiser and wipes for customers to use across their network of stores. They're following government's requirements around self isolation for staff and outline how their online service works.
  • Multiple conversations in the kitchen at work. All of them are about Covid-19 despite the fact we all wish we could talk about something else.
  • Go supermarket shopping. Relieved to find toilet paper on the shelves.
  • Email update from my son's school, Murrays Bay Intermediate School. The school remains open for instruction, and advises parents, "Schools are currently working with the Ministry of Education to plan for future scenarios. The most likely scenario is if a student or staff member is confirmed with COVID-19, the Department of Health may require a school to close for a day or two, to undertake tracking and tracing of close contacts. At this point in time there is no expectation that schools will be closing. We are still open for instruction. A number of parents have made the decision to keep their students' home as a preventative measure. Please note that at this time teachers are not being asked to provide additional learning programmes for these students. Our teachers are focused on the learners in their classroom. Teachers will however continue to share their planning and access to google classroom in the same way they currently do."
  • Company-wide email update. We have an all-staff meeting about Covid-19 to attend this afternoon.
  • I text my daughter who has just started university in Wellington, the city where the Australian man who traveled to New Zealand while awaiting test results for Covid-19 is now in isolation, after learning once he was here that he was positive. My daughter is living in the halls of residence with hundreds of other students. Look after yourself and wash your hands all the time, I tell her.