From Penk’s Pen

This time it’s different. As I write, Auckland is about to cross the threshold of the previous longest lockdown, albeit intended, advertised and certainly hoped to be “short and sharp”.
18 months ago, the novelty of covid19 restrictions outweighed the burden of restrictions as far as many Kiwis were concerned. Stuffed toys adorned the windows. This time around, it’s not just the teddy bears that are stuffed.
The mood of my constituents has changed significantly lately, as an entirely predictable state of affairs has come to pass. With vaccine rollout having been so slow, it was only a matter of time until a variant that’s been around for some months would escape from the ad hoc MIQ facilities – barely modified hotels – in New Zealand’s largest and most densely populated city.
In early 2020 I could see the effect that the very first lockdown was already having on some constituents. And even though I would cop some criticism for calling for a more nuanced approach (for instance, that butchers, greengrocers and bakers should be allowed to trade during Level 4, provided they could do so safely), I stand by my advocacy to this day.
Since that time, as your local MP I have become all the more aware of various other adverse effects that lockdowns can have. These aren’t always reported in the nightly news, possibly because they are so personal to the individuals concerned and are “slow burn” problems by their nature.
A key category of difficulty is education, for example, with those already on the margins inevitably becoming marginalised further. Irregular, unpredictable and therefore stressful situations arise during lockdowns particularly for those with special learning needs. And “learning from home” is not easy when you’re living in a rural or remote area that still has poor internet connectivity. Even more to the point, such stresses and strains don’t end when the lockdowns do. I’ve sat with these families, so I know.
I fear for many people in this area and can only hope that we soon see an end to the restrictions. That way, we can start trying to rebuild all the local lifestyles and livelihoods affected in this way. Please follow public health advice to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.

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