PACIFIC PANDEMIC DIARY: Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch hops on a bus from Onehunga to Auckland to check out day one of New Zealand’s new coronavirus status – alert level 2.

Alert level two looked like alert level “zero” today after more than a month of lockdown in Auckland when I caught a local bus into downtown.

There were people in every facet of business smiling and frowning just like Auckland in the old pre-covid days.


The barber shops, coffee shops, takeaways were busy as people returned to their normal routines of keeping their businesses open.

What was disappointing, however, was there was no social distancing on the bus – or elsewhere, even though the bus signs said a maximum of 39 people.

Was I taking a risk? I suppose I was but that is the price you pay when you’re a journalist.

Did anyone on the bus feel threatened? No, a few had face masks on … even fewer people were wearing gloves.

Scent of a hairdo
I could smell the scent of the woman in front of me with her hairdo, which was fragrant and pleasant – so much for keeping your distance.

There were others on the bus, like a woman who sat across from me looking really busy as she answered her phone.

The others looked busy too as we picked up passengers on the way to Newmarket where young men and women would alight. And again there was no social distancing.

Whether they were girlfriends and boyfriends, I wouldn’t know but the sheer joy of seeing each other was something to behold after such a long time of being locked away.

Westfields at Newmarket was open, and it seemed that nothing new had happened. Again I was aghast at the no social distancing.

It was appalling to say the least. It was like the shackles had been taken off and people had come out to play on a sunny day.

Onehunga was busy as the mall returned to business, you couldn’t get a place to park your car, which was a far cry from level 4 or even level 3.

Thai pie and coffee
The joy of having a chicken and mushroom pie and a coffee made by the Thai couple down the road before I caught the bus was palpable. Finally, I could return to something normal – even though it was bad for me.

As were the kids at the playground in Onehunga, I saw from the bus. They were going down the slide after lockdown, and their joy was unbridled.

I stopped off at AUT University – where I study. It was closed with a QR barcode on the door which I didn’t bother to try.

Next was a trip to High Street, it seemed nothing had changed, just as busy as ever.

Auckland, had returned to normal it seemed. Covid-19 has been banished …or has it?

Story and pictures by Sri Krishnamurthi

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