I went by my local bakery on Friday morning to pick up my contribution to the morning tea we were putting on at work to celebrate my producer's significant birthday.
It's not quite the celebration she had been hoping for – a few lukewarm cheerios, a couple of cream doughnuts and an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday doesn't make up for the rooftop Champagne party that had been planned.
But Covid has thrown a spanner in the works, as it has for so many people, and the proper celebration will happen next year. While I was waiting, I got chatting to a lovely couple and in the course of the conversation they told me that their daughter is trapped in Barcelona and has been trying to get home for a year now.
When they were telling a friend how impossible it was to get a place in MIQ, she had absolutely no sympathy for them and said their daughter shouldn't have gone travelling in the first place. The small-mindedness of some Kiwis is what has stunned me about this pandemic. That, and the fact there are so many people who like being locked up and told what to do.
Civilisations wouldn't have evolved, great adventures wouldn't have been had, explorations wouldn't have been undertaken if people had stayed in their villages and married their half sisters. I'm glad I did the travelling I did when I could.
I will always call New Zealand home but there is nothing quite like buckling into your seat ready for takeoff. And so many Kiwi kids, who are the explorers and the risk takers and the adventurers, have taken the opportunity to travel the world. Many of them found jobs overseas, many of them had families overseas and many of them came home bringing their exotic partners with them. That travel was undertaken in the sure and certain knowledge that New Zealand is home and that there would be freedom of movement. The pandemic has changed everything.
Of course we needed to restrict travel and provide quarantine facilities when we were chasing an elimination strategy. But it makes no sense to continue with MIQ when Delta is in the community and when we have people isolating at home. If you're double vaxxed and you've tested negative all the way through your journey, why can't people who want to travel to see family and friends, to do business or to just get off the bloody island do so?
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And look at some of the decisions made recently around MIQ – the case of the man taken to Tauranga to see his dying father, taken back to Auckland for the night and released the next day? The Grand Mercure in Wellington with one guest – one – in a 100-room isolation facility? It's crazy. Yes, Chris Hipkins announced there will be shorter stays in MIQ as of November 14 and that people would probably be able to come into New Zealand and self isolate by the end of summer. But the whole world has moved on. And New Zealand is lagging far, far behind.
The pandemic has shown us to take nothing for granted – not even our basic liberties – and reinforced just how important our families and loved ones are. Rest home residents denied access to their only reason for living, families unable to be together in joyous times and sad – every day people are kept apart is just cruel.
Now that Delta is in the community, it doesn't make any sense at all to keep us apart from the ones we love.