When former Mount Maunganui man Terrence Hepetema looks out of the windows of his London apartment all he sees are brick walls.

As London faces a lockdown and with all UK schools being ordered to close in coming days, it's a view Hepetema could expect to see a lot of during the next few weeks.

He is one of many Kiwis facing lockdown in a foreign country away from family.

As of Thursday morning (NZT) the former Bay of Plenty Steamers and Te Puna Rugby Football Club player, who is contracted to professional English rugby club London Irish, has had all training sessions and games cancelled until April 15 and had been told to practise social distancing - but every day was changing.


"It is getting pretty serious," Hepetema said from the UK yesterday.

Last Friday he was training with his rugby team and on Saturday he was on the trains, while people flocked to bars and cafes around him. By Sunday he had received an email asking players not to attend training and on Monday the premiership competition, involving 12 clubs, had been put on hold for at least four weeks.

It could even last longer, he says.

"It's crazy to think that that could happen.

"It's just really unknown."

While Hepetema would love to return home for that time to be close to his family - especially in a lockdown - he didn't know if it was possible, or a good idea.

The 28-year-old said even if there weren't travel restrictions in place he wouldn't risk coming home in case he contracted coronavirus in transit and exposed his parents and grandmother to it.

"As long as my parents are safe I'm happy to stick it out here."


Spending a lockdown away from his family in New Zealand is made easier with having his partner, Jade McLaurin, who is originally from the UK but also lived at Mount Maunganui. She is working from home and Hepetema is looking at sourcing some gym equipment before a lockdown, which he expects could happen in coming days.

A Rotorua couple now living in London, Tayne Edelsten and Lindie de Klerk, are preparing for lockdown away from their hometown and family.

They're without work and uncertain when they'll be able to return. Edelsten said his last shift was Thursday last week and they were spending last night (NZT) scouring empty aisles of supermarkets for remnants of food essentials.

"I haven't had work, most people are out of work for a minimum of two weeks," Edelsten said.

Empty supermarket shelves in London. Photo / Supplied
Empty supermarket shelves in London. Photo / Supplied

"Everything over here is gone."

The pair say the London today is in complete contrast to the one they met when they moved there, now with empty streets and seats on public transport.

While they're worried about the impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on work opportunities, travel restrictions made it hard for them to get home even if they wanted. However, for the meantime, they said they would stick it out.

"A lot of people we know are going home," de Klerk said.

"It's scary because we're not in New Zealand ... knowing that we can't just go home.

"We don't know if it's going to be two weeks or two months."