‘I’m going to a festival this weekend’: New Zealand students on life without lockdown

‘The pandemic just seems like a distant dream’

Festivals, beaches, partying, and drinking – a utopian reality for many Brits or just a flight away to New Zealand?

Thousands of New Zealanders gathered for a music concert last weekend, living the fantasy those of us in the UK are dreaming of. 

New Zealand went a whole three months in 2020, from June to August, without any new local infections and was even declared “virus free”. Since then they’ve essentially been living their best life due to tough restrictions being implemented at the beginning of the pandemic.

Currently, there are only 65 active cases in New Zealand with just one in the community, and some restrictions include masks being required on public transports and a contact tracing app scanned when visiting places. Meanwhile, the UK is back in its third national lockdown, and festivals, hugging and going to the pub all seem a long distance away. 

The Tab asked New Zealand students what it’s like to be living live in a country without lockdown: 

‘The pandemic just seems like a distant dream’

I’m actually from Newcastle. The weirdest thing (aside from the NHS clapping situation? What was that?!) has been seeing people post on their socials about holidays abroad while your case numbers have continued to climb. It’s bonkers how easy it is for Brits to go in and out of the country compared to here.

Life is relatively normal now in NZ. The pandemic just seems like a distant dream. I take a second to be thankful for the normalcy we’ve gained back but otherwise, Covid doesn’t cross my mind.

Lydia Swift, 21, University of Auckland

‘We still hug and shake hands’

Life is effectively the same as it was in 2019. People gather and eat out, social distancing isn’t a thing over here. You can go to the markets in the city and spend all day shopping. 

We don’t see any good news out of the UK, the images of ambulances queuing outside hospitals are pretty terrible especially as I have grandparents in England. 

Life is good in New Zealand. We still hug and shake hands! We see the world struggling on a scale that is hard to comprehend.

Patrick Kerrigan, 24, graduate from the University of Waikato

‘I feel lucky to have a government that listens to science’

At first, it felt surreal, and I was nervous about going out in a crowd, but I guess time changed everything. 

I feel lucky to have a government that cares and listens to science and being Covid free was a community effort. People cared for each other and followed the guidelines, which helped us get over the virus pretty fast.

Niyati Bhuta, 21, University of Auckland

‘I’m going to a festival this weekend!’

In my normal day, I’d typically play my mandolin and violin (I’m a musician) and then possibly hang out with a friend or go run some errands. Maybe I’ll go swimming or walk my dog too.

Tonight, I’m going to an Irish traditional music session too, which would not be possible in lockdown. Also, I’m going to a folk festival this weekend which I’m looking forward to!

Jackie Lamb, 20, University of Auckland

‘It does seem surreal that the UK I once knew is no longer’

The concerts are back – and trust me, they’re even better than pre-lockdown!

I think the problem stems from the UK government, who seem to be a bit vague and change their mind every five minutes. It does seem surreal that the UK I once knew is no longer. And the stats are unbelievable, 1,800 deaths a day??

But in NZ we’ve just had our first “community case” in a while and it’s a bit of a shakeup.

Amy Norris- Hibbert, 21, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

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