A Return to Alert Level 2: 14 May 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic severely curtailed in New Zealand (for the time being, at least), our Government decided this past Monday (11 May 2020) that New Zealand would be reducing our alert level to Alert Level 2.

This would be a staggered reduction. Most businesses would open today (Thursday, 14 May 2020) with adequate contact tracing and significant social distancing measures in place. All learning establishments at any level would reopen starting Monday, 18 May 2020. And all bars and pubs where alcohol was the main income stream could open as of Thursday, 21 May 2020.

Rewinding a little: last night, I had a series of dreams, and they were mostly okay, and I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.

In the series of dreams, I was in a sitcom. It was an old school sitcom, although the main characters — one I played and the other another (very attractive) man played — were gay. It took place in a very small apartment or even a hotel room from the 70s. There was a door to enter the room with a small corridor inside the door. Facing the door out, there was a bathroom on the right, with a vanity butting up against the exterior wall, a toilet, then a shower unit or bathtub (I’m not sure which). In the room, there was a large bed on the right wall as you faced the door to enter the room. It had a mirrored or some sort of glass type of wall behind it, and two large night stands with 70s lamps on them.

I remember in one dream, I thought, “I need to get a lot of breath fresheners to be in this scene with this guy.” We needed to have a conversation while sitting on the bed, him under the sheets, me demure on top of them and beside him.

There were other takes as well, which I didn’t remember as much.

One scene switched from shooting a show — a person plugging in a lighter / lamp unit into the plug in the bathroom and trying to light a candle or something like that — to real life. The flame ignited the set, and I was trying to help put the flames out. I ran out of the room, saw the fire wasn’t so bad and the smoke was minimal, then ran in and used a towel to unplug the unit before using a wet towel (maybe even the same one) to douse the flames.

That did wake me up in an alert state. I did eventually dose back off to sleep and have more dreams about this same experience, but they were short and not very memorable.

We had decided to start work later today — 9:30 AM rather than the normal 8:30 AM, just in case there was traffic — but most of us got there earlier as there was not as much traffic as usual.

On the way to work, my husband and I calculated I hadn’t been in a car, or out of our subdivision, for 6 1/2 weeks. The only time I ventured out during lockdown (Alert Level 3 or 4) was to get my flu shot at the doctors on Monday, 30 March 2020. Other than that, I stayed home other than several walks in the reserve near our house.

Not much had changed. The autumnal morning fog grew thicker once we got to the main road intersecting our neighborhood, and that thick fog maintained for a lot of the journey into work.

It was great to see our colleagues again, and we had a very productive day at work. We hammered out a lot of fine points about how to work with students in Alert Level 2, and while not all of my ideas were okayed, we did reach consensus on everything pretty much.

We’re looking forward to welcoming students back on Monday.

Once our preparations were done for Monday, our bosses let us go for the day. We ended up leaving about 2:30 PM, which is only an hour earlier than we normally leave work. All of our colleagues in education had left before then; only ops remained behind until 2:30 PM.

We had a late lunch at home as we both forgot to take our lunches with us. It was the same lunch we were going to have but it was grilled, which made it much more tastier. I cooked dinner for us to last us for the next three nights, so that should be a time-saver.

Going back a few steps: on the way home, I was amazed how “normal” life seemed again. People were out at restaurants and visiting places and businesses were open. The traffic was steady. It seemed like a light afternoon before a holiday weekend.

There was a strange disconnect between what had been during lockdown — not many people out anywhere and nothing open — to today, where there was some strong semblance of how life was before COVID-19 came along. Very bizarre.

Today was the third day in a row with no COVID-19 cases and no COVID-19 deaths. It happened to be Budget day too, and our Government spent a whopping $50 billion New Zealand dollars to help the economy recover. This has been, by far, the largest budget ever.

There is a huge $1.6 billion NZD going towards tertiary education, and while much of that is going towards fees-free training for all students no matter their financial or previous study situations, in apprenticeship / trades in vital industries, I do agree with that spend. In a recession — and I think we’ll hit a very deep recession bordering on depression economy-wise — education is where it is at. I don’t know if we’ll get a slice of that pie or not, but if we can help in any way more, I think we can rise to the challenge. Right now, we are running full and would have to undertake more space to make it work. Who knows?

Emotionally and mentally, I was anxious to start off the day — “Oh my God, I’m going outside my safe place!” — but being at work with my colleagues who I trust was great, and I felt very happy to be back. A positive in my life, at last.

On that note: I need to get some sleep. Stay safe and be kind!