Wellington Scoop


by Lindsay Shelton
Remember only two weeks ago when Wellington had only one case of covid-19. Wellington’s first case was New Zealand’s seventh, and it was the first outside Auckland.

Fourteen days later, Wellington has 42 cases, with eleven more in the Hutt Valley. Three of the patients are in Wellington Hospital.

In the same period, the New Zealand total has gone from seven to 368. Auckland and Waitemata lead the list, with 105 patients.

In his exemplary daily reports, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield tells us the numbers will continue to rise, for another ten days. After that, if the lockdown has been successful, he expects the number of new cases will be reducing.

Before we reached the top alert level, Paul Young, a Wellington doctor, tweeted this warning about the need to stay home:

I am an intensive care doctor. I have never felt as scared as I do now. Please stay home. If New Zealand embraces this challenge we will together save tens of 1000s of lives. The worst thing you can do is visit the supermarket. Hundreds of people together in a supermarket will spread this disease & the consequences if that happens will be worse than you can imagine.

And it’s not just New Zealanders who are having to lock down. We’re hearing more and more reports of tourists, expecting to get home to the other side of the world, who have found themselves unable to leave New Zealand.

A busload of Spanish tourists arrived in Wellington last weekend after two weeks in the South Island. They were booked to fly out through Auckland on Monday. But their international flights via Singapore to Madrid were cancelled. They left town on Wednesday, and got no further than Auckland. An indefinite delay.

All transit through Singapore has been blocked. As has transit through Hong Kong, Dubai, Los Angeles – all airports that are familiar to international travellers. All suddenly off limits. As is New Zealand, which has closed its borders to anyone except New Zealanders.

Ten days ago the Government briefly advised New Zealanders overseas to come home if they could. A family member was booked on an Emirates flight to Auckland, but it was cancelled. A few days later, the advice changed. The government is now advising New Zealanders overseas that they should stay where they are. With no idea of when air travel may resume.

And as air travel is cut back, jobs for airline staff are disappearing. Last week we learnt that 400 New Zealand pilots, employed by three Australian-owned airlines, would be losing their jobs. And yesterday RNZ reported that Virgin Australia’s chief executive said:

“We’ve regrettably had to make one of the hardest decisions anyone would ever have to make – and that is to make our 540 New Zealand-based employees redundant.”

The new world is not just empty streets.


  1. jamie, 28. March 2020, 6:04

    If you can work from home, think about all the businesses who are broke except for what support the govt can give. Retail, Hospo, tourism, education.
    If you can work from home, then don’t expect everyone else to be able to. Save your money to spend on the NZ businesses to help them get going.
    I’m an essential service – life has to go on and i have to make contact with people even with the distancing etc. Think about how i and everyone else feels who is in this situation while people are complaining about not being able to do something.

  2. Jacko J, 30. March 2020, 18:54

    People who have lost their freedom and livelihood have every right to complain Jamie.

  3. Jamie, 30. March 2020, 20:04

    This is for the greater good and we are all giving something up. Complaining about it will just make the next 20 odd days harder. We’ve got a shut down business and a farm so are feeling the effects but luckily are still healthy.
    I’m just encouraging us to think about those working especially the health care and social care workers as well as the supermarkets. Good that the company owners recognised the work and provided better pay.


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