This week schools return under very hard-to-enforce self-distancing rules, retailers have already opened their doors to nervous shoppers, and this reporter returns to an office replete with cleansing fluids, wet wipes and raised voices as everyone communicates from a new, uncertain personal remove.
We'll also see hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, nail technicians and the like back at work in PPE gear.
Life is strange.

Operating under new rules presents its own set of challenges, but most people seem to be coping. At Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre last week they had everything in hand. The front slots were open, as was the back area where people could deposit their recycling directly into the bins and bags.

Centre manager Dale Cobb was on the road, masked, directing traffic, with a colleague, also masked, inside the complex, signalling when there was a spare car space around the back. As one car left, another was given the green light to enter. It was smooth, relatively fast, and quite painless. Accumulated paper, cardboard, plastics and metal found its way home and people took their empty cars back to their newly tidied sheds, now cleared of recycleables.

Dale and his staff were calm and polite, copping the odd unjustified complaint but never letting it faze them. They chatted with customers and tried to make it look like a normal day at the WRRC, which, under our new regime, it was.
Compliments to all concerned for making the trip to the centre easy.

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Many are waiting for level 1 before attempting to resume something close to normality. While families may have extended their bubbles to include other family members and overdue hugs were the order of the day, distance seems to be the main difference. Most of us are keeping each other beyond arm's length, respecting space and trying not to intrude. Even those more cavalier about the whole thing are finding themselves kept at a distance by others more nervous, when they would rather move in for an embrace, or at least a handshake. Get used to it folks, it'll be that way for a while.

The fact is, many of us feel okay with getting back to how things were, but there are others, perhaps elderly or with compromised health, who would rather take no chances until there is an official "all clear". And even then, caution will guide many.
The rest of us have to be fine with that, and not try to override their fears by blundering into their space as if the whole pandemic never happened.
Because it did, and in spite of wacko theories to the contrary, what we have done has been in the country's best interest overall. Aren't we lucky to have got off so lightly?
There were casualties, and we grieve for them, but it could have been a lot worse. Let's not encourage a second wave of infections.

Throughout all of this, along with other essential workers, our supermarket people kept shelves stocked and tills ticking over, keeping people fed and in the basics like toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser. Not all their customers have been patient, tolerant or even nice, but still they came to work and smiled behind their masks. Without them this could have been very different, so a big thank you to all who worked in supermarkets and food stores when others enjoyed forced idleness.

When I grow up, I want to be as intellectually able as Eric Trump, who has said publicly (on Fox TV, where else?) that Covid-19 and the social distancing rules are a Democrat hoax designed to prevent his father, President Trump, from holding his ego-stroking rallies. Describing the Covid-19 emergency as an invention of the Democrats, he said the coronavirus will "magically, all of a sudden go away and disappear and everyone will be able to reopen" after election day. Apparently intellect is genetic. Eric Trump is executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, a position of relative importance, but I'm guessing the interview process was a doddle. The scary thing is, he's not the only one who believes that: we have a lot in this country who believe it's a hoax and regularly go on line to expound their theories with poor spelling and worse English. I wonder how the families of all those who have died feel about it.

Last week we published Penny Robinson's piece on Covid ABCs. Rohan Mouldey saw it on line and responded with this:
Abracadab era finds glorious humour idling, just killing little moments, minutes, many pronouns queried.
"Right," said Ted, unanimously.
Verily we 'xeunted ze yen zeitgeist,
and building communities delivers earned freedoms…
I'm jamming known life-mysteries.
Note of pro-quo respectability served too, for turning undone time
Veni-vidi-vici.
Welcome.
Welcome Zebras Y'all