As I write we are approaching two weeks into the national lockdown during COVID-19 alert level four and hopefully by now we are all starting to settle into our new rhythms.
We can, and will, get through this together successfully if we remain calm and keep supporting one another. Tamaki is so far showing great community spirit in doing this.
I have certainly found the last weeks to have been rather full on; while I have had to cancel all my usual face to face meetings I have been receiving hundreds of queries a day from locals. As you will anticipate, each day brings new questions and challenges. Where I can, I have been providing advice and am often making contact with government Ministers and their advisors to get the information required. I have also been in frequent contact with our local police, health services, council, supermarkets, and community groups (to name just a few) to ensure a clear flow of information.
I’ve also been talking with locals currently overseas—or who have family overseas—and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For those contacting my office, please know we are receiving so many enquiries the lines often go to voicemail, but know I will get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime there is a list of relevant contacts at the bottom of this page which I hope will be helpful in answering your queries.
There has been a lot of neighbourly support on display around Tamaki, including people offering to get groceries for older neighbours or those with compromised immunity. I have also been heartened to see so many putting teddy bears in windows or encouraging their children to chalk inspiring messages on the footpath. From the feedback I am getting, this has been well appreciated by all but particularly our younger locals. My family and I have certainly enjoyed it; above are just some of the teddies I spotted during a recent walk.
Sadly, there have been some negative events as well including Cox’s Pharmacy in Glen Innes being robbed as well as some teddy bears that a young girl had put out for everyone to enjoy. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that there are those who would stoop to such levels. But we won't let a rotten few spoil the solidarity and good spirit we are seeing from the vast majority of the community at this time.
As you probably know, very few people are being quarantined when returning to New Zealand from overseas. Only those clearly showing symptoms are quarantined, everyone else is just asked to stay at home even though we know people can have the virus but not actually displaying symptoms. I would also note that there is no testing at the border for those returning home.
As National’s Customs spokesperson, I am continuing to call for the quarantine and testing for all arrivals into New Zealand. You can watch the video below to hear my thoughts in more detail.
A message about the Easter Bunny
I thought I would end this newsletter with something a little more light-hearted and looking towards Easter in a few days.
I have had a number of young people contact me worried that the Easter Bunny may not be able to come to New Zealand this year due to COVID-19. So, I went and asked a few knowledgeable and important friends for their advice. Thanks to Ambassador Scott Brown; Simon Bridges MP; Councillor Desley Simpson; Dr Roger Bay of Town & Country Vet, and Kym Samuels from New World Eastridge for their advice and help.
As I noted at the beginning, further below is a rather long list of various service providers that you may find helpful. I have also listed some lock-down ideas you might find useful for yourselves, your family, or children.
Again, while locked down at home, know I remain very much in contact so please drop me a line if you have any questions or concerns. Please keep well and safe.
Useful contacts during COVID-19
Tamaki Electorate Office / Simon O'Connor MP
Phone: 09 575 9842
Official Covid-19 Advice - www.covid19.govt.nz for up-to-date information about Covid-19 or call the free government helplines on 0800 22 66 57 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week)
Ministry of Health - www.health.govt.nz For health advice including:
- up-to-date information about confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand
- Information for those with disabilities
- Guidelines around funerals
Healthline - 0800 358 5453 if you or someone you know has COVID-19 symptoms. For other health related issues, you can also call Healthline but use this number - 0800 611 116
Auckland District Health Board For local news and updates around Covid-19, the best information is available on their Facebook at www.facebook.com/akldhb/
Ministry of Social Development (MSD) - www.msd.govt.nz MSD is the sole agency responsible for paying the wage subsidy and all superannuation and job seeker benefits. For general enquiries call 0800 559 009.
To contact the Ministry with wage subsidy queries, the number is 0800 40 80 40.
If you are a superannuitant and require extra financial assistance at this difficult time, please call MSD on 0800 552 002.
Police To report suspected COVID-19 L4 isolation breaches and businesses you suspect are breaching the essential services, you can either message via this link www.police.govt.nz/105support or call their non-emergency number, 105. Naturally, if something is serious, please call 111.
Safetravel - www.safetravel.govt.nz This website provides important advice for New Zealanders currently overseas. If you have loved ones overseas, please encourage them to register at this website.
Immigration New Zealand Information about Alert Levels, visas, isolation and temporary border measures for all travellers, student visa holders, migrant workers and employers, visit www.immigration.govt.nz or freephone 0508 558 855
Mental Health Foundation Speak to a trained counsellor, free of charge and confidentially, free call or text 1737 any time. Its website www.mentalhealth.org.nz offers ‘Top Tips to Get Through’
SPCA - www.spca.nz The SPCA is keeping its website updated with news and info for pet owners relating to Covid-19
Lockdown ideas and tips
For those staying at home with school-kids, PE with Joe uploads free exercise videos every weekday and is designed specifically for the lockdown period—a perfect way to get moving without leaving the house too much. Click on the link here to access his videos.
In light of the school closures worldwide, Audible has made a range of audiobooks free for kids and teens—a great way to keep your kids (and yourself) entertained during the lockdown period. Click on the link here to access the audiobooks.
Comedian David Walliams is releasing a free children's story every day for the next 30 days. Click here to listen.
TVNZ and Les Mills Gyms have partnered to broadcast free daily workout classes on TV. The adult programmes air daily at 9.00am on TVNZ1. Workouts for children and teenagers will screen daily at 3.00pm on TVNZ2.
Finally, with all its concerts sadly cancelled for the time being, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is instead live-streaming its performances to people in their homes. Check out the link here to watch.