For Jo Hay, the closest physical interaction she’s had with other people in controlled segregation was a friendly, masked wave in an exercise area in the parking lot.
A social media group allowed recent returnees from Wellington’s Grand Mercure Hotel – the city’s only border hotel – to exchange stories and foster a “real sense of community” despite being confined to their room for long periods of the day.
Returning to New Zealand after teaching in South Korea, Hay’s stay in isolation was at odds with the outdoor lifestyle she normally leads, calling it a âstrange experienceâ.
It was the first time in 39 years of marriage to her husband Andy that the couple “didn’t have the opportunity to do so. [their] own thing â.
* Thousands of returning Kiwis join post-Covid NZ job seekers
* Students donate artwork to Covid-19 isolators at hotel across the road
* Coronavirus: government pledges $ 150 million for personal protective equipment at the border and on flights
* The Wellington Grand Mercure hotel closes indefinitely
Hay relied heavily on daily routines to bring a semblance of normalcy to an abnormal situation, bustling about adding to the lists of things she wanted to accomplish, organizing activities around meals and exercising.
In order to stay sane and prevent cabin fever from setting in, the couple challenged themselves to choose 12 photos to represent their time spent abroad.
âI keep albums and my big plan was to catch up on photos for the past six months. Stayed in shape by challenging myself to do push-ups in the morning, walk with controlled exercise in the afternoon, and [doing] a YouTube Zumba routine right before dinner, âsaid Hay.
The movements of returnees around the hotel were strict, with the once-daily outdoor excursion to the outdoor exercise area a welcome opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun on your face – provided the Wellington’s winter weather played ball.
âMilitary personnel gathered people in each room – everyone was wearing masks and social distancing – and escorted us to the parking lot where we could walk for up to an hour, being careful to keep our distance from others. .
âWhen the medical staff came to see us, we put on our masks and stood in the doorway as they checked our temperatures.
âI felt quite safe because there was no real contact between the returnees. We greeted each other during the exercise, âsaid Hay.
Dinners included both a meat-based option and a vegetarian option, with overnight pork ribs on the menu, providing the meal to remember during his stay.
Amber-Leigh Woolf / Stuff
The first bus arrives at Grand Mercure Wellington with passengers from South Korea for their 14-day isolation period (first published June 26).
Alcohol could be ordered through the hotel, but since the couple are not heavy drinkers, they did not accept the offer.
âThe meals were excellent and a nice variety … often the meat was chicken cooked in different ways. There was always a piece of fruit and a cookie for a snack, âsaid Hay.
With an Air New Zealand chartered repatriation flight from South Korea landing in Wellington on June 26, hotel staff stepped up to make the transition to Kiwi life a bit easier.
âThe chef included a few Korean meals which was great as the majority of returnees lacked Korean food and after two years in South Korea we came to love it too,â said Hay.
She praised the staff working at the facilities, saying everything was working to make the stay of the returnees as comfortable as possible.
âEven though there was no contact between returnees, a social media group was organized to keep everyone connected. It has developed a real community between all of us.
âWhen we finished our quarantine and made our way to the plane together, we were finally able to meet and say hello to the many people we had chatted with online.
âWe organized a giveaway for the groups that had supported us and made a donation to the Te Aro School library to thank them for their support,â said Hay.
She is now preparing to start a new teaching job in Hamilton next week.
WELLINGTON WOMAN’S QUARANTINE EXPERIENCE IN TOKYO
Wendy Harnett says that when the wheels of her plane touched down at Narita Airport in Tokyo, it was as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
After several unsuccessful attempts to get her Japanese husband past strict New Zealand border restrictions linked to Covid-19, Harnett made a grace run to the land of the rising sun in hopes of bringing Koji Arihisa back home. him to Karori.
On Monday, Arihisa got the news he was waiting for: he can apply for a visitor’s visa to enter New Zealand.
This is a result that would not have been possible if Harnett had not rolled the dice and applied himself abroad.
Upon arrival, Harnett was able to rest on a specially designed cardboard bed before boarding a plastic-riddled bus to his government-provided hotel, the Toyoko Inn, for three days – accommodation so close to the airport that she could see Terminal 3 from her hotel. the window.
Guests cannot smoke or drink, and meals hang on your door handle.
âAnnouncements are made in the room when meals are delivered. You only get the meal after the announcement and then you leave some trash on the floor outside the door, âHarnett said.
As in New Zealand, guests are offered three square meals, accompanied by green tea and juice for breakfast. The bedrooms are also equipped with all the usual hotel arrangements, including three new pajamas that were laid out on Harnett’s bed upon his arrival.
After returning a negative Covid-19 test result, Harnett has now been transferred to an upscale hotel in Asakusa, central Tokyo, for 12 nights.
âKoji picked me up from the quarantine hotel in a rental car. He must have been waiting for me outside. I was so happy to see him, but also worried because he lost weight. He’s in my bubble now, so we could kiss.
âAt the Toyoko Inn, [there were] no interaction with anyone unless you call the front desk. Now I can walk around the neighborhood and I am trusted to stay away from others. I can buy things from a convenience store or buy take out. This is safe because all store staff wear face shields, masks and disposable gloves.
âThere are also plastic barriers in stores and restaurants,â Harnett said.
Harnett and Arihisa applied for a partnership-based residence and work visa in February, but “in desperation” the couple also applied for a partnership-based visitor visa “just to get them into New Zealand. “.
âCurrently, no overseas request is being processed, hence my attempt to bring him back with me. Once ashore, her visas can be processed, âHarnett said.