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A message from your future: Travel after Corona [in New Zealand]

A message from your future: Travel after Corona [in New Zealand]

Old Jun 15, 20, 8:52 pm
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A message from your future: Travel after Corona [in New Zealand]

I thought it might be of keen interest to many of you, given that 99.9% of you will NOT live in NZ. We are incredibly lucky down here that after a month long, pretty strict and well perceived, Lockdown we are now declared "Covid free". I've just been on two domestic trips within New Zealand and what I have encountered might give everyone a good idea of what will actually happen in practice once travel restrictions get lifted. Hint hint, nothing that would add even a cent additional expenses to the big corporate hotel chains or airlines.

As I've mentioned, the Lockdown itself was pretty harsh here in NZ, stricter at least than for example in Australia (we didn't have access to delivery food or fast food restaurants, for example) but our prime minister is highly respected, introduced the restriction in a compassionate and easy to follow, science-backed way and hence most people happily adhered to them which means we had one of the lowest number of cases and death world-wide. The kiwis are all very proud of this achievement and even the more happy now that we can travel again domestically. Straight after the end of restrictions had been announced, I booked a quick trip from Auckland to Christchurch staying at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel and then just last weekend a trip to beautiful Queenstown, staying at the Hilton Resort and Spa.

After briefly insisting to keep the middle row free on their airplanes and enforcing social distancing on their planes, all caution is now blown to the wind with pretty much everything back to before the pandemic hit. No free sanitizer or facemasks to be found anywhere, zero concerns about distancing yourself from other customers (hint- even while Air NZ tried, it never really worked, you simply can't "distance" yourself in an Economy class cabin). Worse even have been the hotels though:-Hilton (like other chains) had been spamming me continuously for months now with corporate emails telling everyone how greatly Hilton cares about the safety and hygiene in light of the Covid crisis. Unfortunately then, you step into their properties here in New Zealand and none of those things are in place so they obviously were meant only for the US where the virus is still raging.

At the Doubletree Chateau on the Park Christchurch, they at least had newly installed plastic barriers at the check in desk. Housekeeping staff was doing the rounds in full Hazmat gear to clean the rooms but then don't seem to notice or care about the dirty dishes in the cupboard. On day 2 of my stay, I was silly enough to take an empty wine glass out of the cupboard. This suite has a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher even so I didn't think much of it until I held the glass against the light: Oh my good lord! After all the hygiene blurb and the plastic dividers at reception and yet another blurb in the room about life after Covid, then THAT: The glass had the DNA of at least 15 people on it, plus lip stick stains, finger prints all over, I kid you not. I don't even know how that can be in a room with a dishwasher! I then checked the next glass, not quite that bad but also not dishwasher cleaned and still finger prints visible. Third wine glass in a row then finally looked clean-ish but how would I know? I find this incredibly shameful Hilton, especially after sending all those emails about how safe it is to stay in one of your properties and all the notifications on the website about hygiene and cleaning your properties. If you can't even check the glassware in the rooms, what am I going to think about anything else to do with hygiene measures in your properties? I mentioned the issue at checkout and the lady was just "Oh, I will check with Housekeeping". So that's like you're reporting a suspected crime with the police and they tell you "Oh, we check with the criminal..." so it will go. No. Frigging. Where. You can bet on that!

The Queenstown Hilton then was even worse- it seemed as if Covid and Lockdown had never happened. No dividers at the reception and the room was simply dirty and filthy. It looked incredibly run down and in bad need for a proper refurb or, at the very least, a really good clean: The first thing we noticed was the television in the room hanging on an angle off the wall and on closer look, it was also covered in a variety of fingerprints. Worse though- there were stains from old body fluids all over the wallpaper by the bedroom which is a total no no in the best of times but totally unacceptable that shortly after Covid. The kitchen also was in die need for a replacement and we had to clean all utensils and crockery in the dishwasher first before we could trust them to be clean. The oven and part of the kitchen furniture were dirty and stained beyond belief which seemed to not look like an issue to any of the staff. We also found various dog hair on the rug in the living room which clearly wasn't cleaned properly and the outdoor furniture had rust stains all over. So in general, the overall hygiene of this property was just ridiculous after all those Hilton promises about post-Covid measures: It was dirty, unkept and everything felt like prior to the pandemic, including the breakfast buffet which was just back to the past with everyone sharing utensils, sneezing into the scrambled eggs and all those fun things that we thought would never occur again.

So you can easily ignore all those smart and ill informed news articles about how the world will change and how hygiene measures will remain super important and buffets are a thing of a past. I can assure you, as soon as the virus is gone or we have a vaccination against it, big hotels/airlines/cruise ships will only need a week or two to just conveniently forget all this talk and go back to BAU as fast as they can. Just listen to this report from the future, also known as New Zealand.
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Old Jun 15, 20, 9:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Sydneyberlin View Post
I thought it might be of keen interest to many of you, given that 99.9% of you will NOT live in NZ. We are incredibly lucky down here that after a month long, pretty strict and well perceived, Lockdown we are now declared "Covid free".
<snip>
Unfortunately not any longer
13:52 16 June 2020 Coronavirus: Two women test postive for Covid-19
New Zealand has two new cases of Covid-19, breaking a case-free streak lasting 24 days.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said two Kiwi women - one in their 30s and one in her 40s - received their test results on Tuesday morning.

The Ministry of Health said the pair recently arrived from the UK, arriving on June 7 and staying in a hotel in Auckland.

They were then allowed to travel to Wellington in a private vehicle on June 13 on compassionate grounds.
<snip>
Edit
From another news link https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/hea...-two-new-cases
<snip>
They were on an Air NZ flight from Brisbane.
<snip>
There are several hundred Kiwis returning "most days".
<snip>
They travelled via Doha and into Brisbane from the UK.

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jun 15, 20 at 9:22 pm
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Old Jun 15, 20, 10:08 pm
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Yep- I saw this literally a few minutes after I had posted. But they came from overseas, at least no unrecognized community transmission. For now!
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Old Jun 16, 20, 12:33 am
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It's similar in central Europe, except some mask wearing (which is also declining, even in places where it remains required). Everything's back to (the old) normal, the only major difference is lack of demand from tourists leading to some restrictions in services available.

Chain hotels do implement some silly global policies, widely considered to be nonsensical by locals and ignored to the extend possible. For example, hotel I'm staying in right now has a plexiglass at the front desk, but when dealing with customer, receptionists simply move to the part of the desk where there's no plexiglass, to be able to have a normal conversation.

​​​​
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Old Jun 16, 20, 6:20 am
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I hope their flights were not full and that they were wearing face coverings all the way.
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Old Jun 16, 20, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Sydneyberlin View Post
Yep- I saw this literally a few minutes after I had posted. But they came from overseas, at least no unrecognized community transmission. For now!
If the government remains strict about isolation the chance of community transmission is basically eliminated. Apparently the women were careful in abiding to the rules, so the risk is small, but it is still a risk. Did they check everyone on the flight?.

Last edited by PaulMSN; Jun 16, 20 at 1:21 pm
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Old Jun 16, 20, 1:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Saint4805 View Post
I hope their flights were not full and that they were wearing face coverings all the way.
Face masks? Checking people on the flight? Are you kidding? That’s the whole point of my original post- none of that, all forgotten and gone.

So planes full to the brim, no one is wearing a mask (no one ever has here and it never made it to become government policy), even the breakfast buffets at the hotels are back to usual. All as if nothing had ever happened.
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Old Jun 16, 20, 5:25 pm
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Here in Taiwan things are back to normal also though people widely use face masks. Face masks were common here before the virus but the usage is still much larger than before. At least high end local resorts are doing well. Not being able to travel abroad we tried booking various options during the summer and had a hard time finding availability. Otherwise life is back to normal outside international travel restrictions.
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Old Jun 16, 20, 11:13 pm
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2 diagnosed today.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a breakdown in COVID-19 controls allowed two women who flew in from the UK to drive halfway across the country before testing positive to COVID--19. Also said trying to contact 320 people they might have come in contact with.
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Old Jun 17, 20, 2:26 am
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
2 diagnosed today.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a breakdown in COVID-19 controls allowed two women who flew in from the UK to drive halfway across the country before testing positive to COVID--19. Also said trying to contact 320 people they might have come in contact with.
See post 2 above
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Old Jun 17, 20, 7:17 am
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The two women were allowed to leave the required 14-day quarantine in NZ after only 6 days to attend a funeral.

This was the biggest issue the Swedish scientist was talking about a month back: a country has no COVID-19 cases, and opens up; then some new cases emerge, then it closes down again. Rinse, repeat.
See what happened in Beijing last week (50+ food market cases), or in Florida this week (16 friends positive after bar visit).

This could potentially continue indefinitely like this, I am afraid...unless there is a very good vaccine, which I doubt we'll ever see...

Last edited by narvik; Jun 17, 20 at 7:23 am
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Old Jun 17, 20, 10:39 am
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And that is why I don't consider this thread our future. I don't agree with the model that Australia, NZ, Hawaii, and a few other places have chosen. The goal was to reduce strain on hospital systems, find treatment options, increase PPE stock, etc. The goal was never to eradicate the virus in the short term.

My initial response to this post was 'so?'. As long as travellers on international inbound flights are quarantined, and some system is in place to ensure that occurs. there should not be a need for a hyper response amongst the general population. In many parts of Europe, masks are no longer being worn, venues are open, and cases and deaths are not rising. (And to clarify, I don't think a quarantine is needed most places but as NZ wants to continue this goal of zero cases then they will continue to quarantine)

When a region/country aims for zero cases, then two cases becomes a concern and they have a much more difficult time to determine a future plan, unless they want to stay isolated into next year (which seems to be the case, based on Australian comments again today)

This is thankfully not 'my future'.
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Last edited by exbayern; Jun 17, 20 at 11:26 am
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Old Jun 17, 20, 10:48 am
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Kind of predictable. Once there's no longer a perceived need, extra cleaning and safeguards will be seen as an unnecessary expense and waste of time. Coupled with a tendency for employees to do the minimum or less depending on culture. I've already seen it at my local supermarket which has gone from spraying down carts with a pump sprayer to a spray bottle and half hearted wipe with a cloth. Same with the checkout lane cleaning.
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Old Jun 17, 20, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
When a region/country aims for zero cases, then two cases becomes a concern and they have a much more difficult time to determine a future plan, unless they want to stay isolated into next year (which seems to be the case, based on Australian comments again today)
This. I've been enjoying the "old normal" for last three weeks, but the difference between Europe and AU/NZ is that in the EU this won't be thrown off the balance by two odd cases. Europe reports hundreds of cases every day and we can still have a very normal life (I took a day trip to Germany today and it was perfect), while two cases in NZ made a worldwide news...
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Old Jun 17, 20, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by the810 View Post
Europe reports hundreds of cases every day and we can still have a very normal life (I took a day trip to Germany today and it was perfect), while two cases in NZ made a worldwide news...
Well- it doesn’t sound like “normal life” to me at all when I read news articles that France considers it a win to have “only 9 deaths of Covid” yesterday. You might have had a “perfect” trip to Germany today but I bet life wasn’t so perfect for those 9 people dying of suffocation or whatever got them down.

In other words- to us here Downunder, a lot of what the rest of the world is doing appears simply reckless and playing with peoples’ lives.
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