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Level 4 – International Travel experience

For less than ideal reasons, I have needed to travel from ‘lockdown’ New Zealand to the UK and the experience is a real eye-opener.

We are all under no illusions that the Covid Pandemic is a serious threat on life and not to be taken lightly in any shape or form, but has NZ taken things to the extreme? I’ll let you look up the specifics in terms of numbers, but NZ’s population (no I can’t say team) 5 million vs the UK’s c66 million have what two totally different views on how to handle Covid right now. The UK seems to have adopted the ‘she’ll be right attitude, while NZ seems to be cowering in its corner of the world refusing to play with anyone.

Despite my requirement to leave urgently (there is no such thing as urgently), I went through the double vax system for protection, which ate up the best part of a month (now it’s almost two). Time critical PCR testing which varied in cost between $220 and $280 (it pays to shop around) and seemingly endless forms, I finally made it to Auckland International Airport – aka zombieland.

Seriously, it’s dead. Virtually devoid of people, passengers, staff and any form of facilities. It’s sad in fact. Hats off to Singapore Airlines for putting on a service because once on board, the crew out numbered the passengers – no need to upgrade as you get a row to yourself to spread out.

Changi airport in Singapore appears to be working at about 20%. Some facilities are open, however, being in transit we were whisked through in single file to a holding area – that did offer coffee and snacks.

The flight to the UK was sparce (Business class was empty) and cattle class was a about 60%, so I had a seat free next to me. Mask wearing throughout was mandatory and gets hot on a 14 hour flight. Again, hats off to the airline, the staff did their best to make things palatable.

But things changed when I got to Heathrow.

There’s an immediate sense of freedom. To someone that resides in NZ, the Covid numbers and deaths are horrific, yet, things are open and almost vibrant. People do or don’t wear masks (it’s up to them) but despite the population, tend to keep their distance. Airport stores are open and people are going about their business.

The motorways are flowing and life seems to be moving. Cafes and takeaways are open, there are restrictions but they appear to be driven by both a commercial and health aspect – for instance, many pubs are open with limited hours as owners juggle profitability.

As NZ is a green zone, I need to do a day 2 PCR test, which I can do from my parent’s home, which I understand will make many of you go ‘well that’s because of the hard mana that NZ has done keeping the virus at bay’ but other Amber countries just mean that I would have to take a day 14 test too – the test kit by the way cost’s $140 from Boots the pharmacy.

The UK is getting on with it and living with Covid, is this a glimpse at what is in store for NZ’s future? I guess that remains to be seen.

Oh, and I still can’t get an MIQ spot to come back and see/provide for my family yet – fingers crossed aye.

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