Dressed up as a clown, Gary Brophy is spreading joy in Whangārei as part of the Great Moscow Circus shows despite his siblings doing it tough in coronavirus-struck Victoria, which has declared a state of disaster.

The 58-year-old, from Bendigo, has two brothers and a sister living in the Australian state where seven people have so far died and where recreational activity has been banned and exercise limited to one hour each day.

His siblings live in Bendigo, Melton and Wangaratta.

"They have houses there but they are in lockdown. We chat daily and they are worried because they hear information from our family in Europe who know of families that have caught the virus and died.

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"I was surprised how fast the virus spread in Victoria. Some people think that was because of the Black Lives Matter protests but who knows. A lot of people think coronavirus is not real.

"We are making forget about everything for two hours. That's our job. To put a bit of happiness in people's lives and for me, it's a service to the community," he said.

A fifth or sixth generation circus performer, Brophy has toured 36 countries through entertainment but said nothing prepared anyone for an epidemic such as Covid-19 that impacted the entire globe.

Circus is in the family blood.

His great grandfather ran a circus in England and his son and Brophy's grandfather started the Bibby Brothers Circus in Dunedin in 1904.

Brophy's mother was born in Australia and she too was in a circus and so are his wife Caroline Belli and daughter Jessinta who both are part of the Great Moscow Circus in Whangārei.

Clown Gary Brophy loves doing what he does best- entertaining people through the best and worst of times. Photo / Supplied
Clown Gary Brophy loves doing what he does best- entertaining people through the best and worst of times. Photo / Supplied

His siblings try to meet every Christmas somewhere in Australia and Brophy said once the transtasman bubble opened up, he would fly over and catch up with them.

Brophy said no one should underestimate the seriousness of Covid-19, even in New Zealand.

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"A second wave can come through. I hope not, but people still need to be very aware."

The circus was performing in Nelson when level 3 restrictions came into force and spent the lockdown in Hamilton but didn't perform there.