Hamish Clark: Why South Islanders care about Auckland this Delta outbreak


We feel guilty in the south.

Guilty that we have no Covid community cases.

Guilty that it was warmer in Christchurch (21C) than Auckland this week.

Guilty that it was so warm we all rode around, the winter sun on our backs, the wind in our hair, feeling just a little smug.

Guilty (kind of) that we could be moving down a level, leaving Auckland behind.

Lockdowns for the South Island had been up until now a distant memory.

We all knew what we were in for but we had forgotten the good bits… and the bad.

Like sharing Zoom calls with our Auckland colleagues stuck in their wardrobe, the frustration of homeschooling, and a reminder of how much we admired the patience of our teachers, and wishing the fridge wasn’t within such easy reach.

The last time South Islanders were locked down and had to stay at home was May 13, 2020 – more than 14 months ago – another guilty feeling. Auckland has been locked up three times – in August 2020 and twice in February this year.

The only good thing about this coming Friday’s announcement for the South Island and the potential move down to level 3 is that it is one step closer to Level 2.

Level 3 means we still have to work from home, still keep our distance, still wear masks and still stockpile toilet paper. But level 3 can also mean the possibility of local surfing, tramping and a spot of white baiting in the local stream.

The best thing though is that it is one step closer to level 2.

Closer to the restaurants and bars reopening, closer to the end of homeschooling, closer to the relative calm of the office compared to the chaos of working from home, albeit with distancing required.

But we all know that we will probably have to wait another week after moving to level 3 before we can contemplate any announcement on level two.

Our Prime Minister is risk-averse, a perfectionist, and she will not want to relax with the Delta variant’s ugly head surging around our biggest city. She will not want to open our internal borders while there are still cases undetected in our community.

And the last thing the South Island wants is this terrifying beast flying south.

With Auckland facing a long lockdown, the South Island is depending on Aucklanders to isolate, reduce case numbers and keep the virus locked up in the City of Sails.

We love you Auckland but we don’t love Covid.

We want Auckland to smash this round of the virus so we can all return to normal but we don’t want to share your germs… or your lockdown.

The South Island knows all too well we have, so far, been lucky again to have dodged this Delta outbreak bullet – we’ll carry the guilt but enjoy our freedoms – who knows? It might be our turn next.

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