It is either Lockdown or it isn’t.

I fully supported the lockdown.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was, for us anyway, reasonably enjoyable – but only as a short-term thing.
Being self-employed meant that I couldn’t do a great deal of work in my usual profession so I was lucky enough to spend the time at home, with my family, catching up on all the inside and outside DIY jobs that I’d been putting off for far too long. Just like a lot of other people.
But this isn’t about me. This is about how we, as kiwis, deal with and perceive ‘lockdown’ when we compare it to every other way of living our lives – past, present and future.
I understand that lockdown isn’t straightforward and relaxing for everyone. I certainly don’t mean that the many different experiences and hardships, that so many have to endure, are easy.
I simply mean that the Level 4 rules themselves are incredibly easy to follow.
Let’s face it, there aren’t exactly many rules for us to get our collective heads around are there:
Stay at home unless you’re shopping, collecting medicines, or exercising safely.
That’s it! Unless you happened to be an essential worker, of course.
Whilst these rules may seem draconian to someone looking in from 2019, in reality, the vast majority of us abided by them consistently and did as we were instructed. And we have been generally, as an entire country, happy to do it.
Of course, there are many who are struggling too. Not necessarily ‘with’ the rules themselves but more ‘because’ of them.
But now, just like the last time, we moved from Level 4 to Level 3 to Level 2 and everything has quickly changed.
I went out to a work appointment on the first day in Level 3 and was surprised to see so much traffic on the roads. Seemingly much more than last year’s Level 3. An indicator that we were perhaps more eager to escape our bubbles this time.
The inherent problem of relaxing a very straightforward set of lockdown rules is that, all of a sudden, there’s an ambiguity setting in. It gets a bit cloudy, a bit hazy, people have slightly differing interpretations of these new, slightly relaxed, rules:
How far can you travel exactly?
How many new people can you let into your bubble?
Can I meet some friends on the beach for a bit of footy as long as we try to social distance?
Do I still have to wear a mask everywhere?
Can I go to work at the office if I can easily work from home?
A lot more rules added to the many different interpretations equals frequent boundary pushing.
It’s a natural human phenomena. If the rules are even just slightly ambiguous and prone to simplification then we’ll adapt them to suit our current situation.
The release from Level 4 lockdown is the government’s way of telling us that the worst is over again, that we are succeeding in our quest. Add to this the standard daily news of no new COVID-19 cases here in the South Island and our  collective response will be to breathe out a sigh of relief and to declare in true kiwi style that we’ve “knocked the bastard off.”
This collective relaxation results in the new rules being incredibly hard to police which then inevitably leads on to these very same rules being bent even further.
And this continued until we have incrementally and independently reached Level 2, in all but name, before the government had physically decreed it. We’d have beaten them to it!
Unfortunately, now we’re in Level 2 and able to get physically inside cafes and restaurants, provided we remained seated and 1 metre apart from everyone else, these new rules immediately become prone to bending and are even harder, if not completely impossible, to police. So it’s unlikely that they fully will be. We are self-policing in many ways.
Before you know it we’ll creep incrementally back to Level 1 normal again. Or the new normal, anyway. Except we now go back to being ever-so-slightly reluctant to shake hands and air kiss anymore whilst coughing and sneezing in company will continue to be frowned upon for a long time to come!
Perhaps a better way could have been for Level 4 to have remained in place for an extra 2 or 3 weeks before moving straight to Level 2 and the relative normality that it affords us. Then the parties, crowded beaches, footpaths and parks which were the inevitable result of the stress-relieving mess of Level 3 could be avoided.
Real estate in this COVID-19 era certainly has its challenges too. The almost 50% reduction in property on the market (August 2021 compared to August 2020) is still creating demand-led price rises that make it even more difficult, for first time buyers especially, to get that foot onto the home ownership ladder.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. It’s either lockdown or it isn’t. However hard we might try.
But let’s hope that this is the last time that we have to get our collective heads around it.

James Abell
Licensed Marketing Consultant