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Hundreds of thousands of copies of the independently owned southern daily will be shipped as far north as Kaitaia to help prevent millions of Kiwis from unwittingly spreading the virus.
Already feted for its coverage of the Covid-19 lockdown, the newspaper is now considered important for helping people maintain community and social connections while staying as far apart as possible.
The country’s last broadsheet metropolitan newspaper is precisely the right size to be folded into a hat which, when worn to the supermarket or on a lockdown walk, helps wearers stay at least 2m apart from each other.
When folded according to the instructions to accompany the forthcoming nationally distributed publication, the ODT becomes a pointed hat whose peak protrudes 1m from the face.
This means two people wearing their ODT social-distancing hat will be at least 2m apart when they meet — exactly the social distance prescribed by the Ministry of Health.
Social Relations Ministry virus distancing expert Dr Kahore Hoa said the hat would be most effective if everyone wore one when they were likely to meet anyone from outside their lockdown bubble.
"At first blush, we must stay at home, but there will be times when people must leave home for a walk, to essential work, or to get the likes of food or pharmaceuticals," he said.
"As such, the official position during these troubled times is that it is safe — in fact, preferable — to greet and converse with an ODT reader.
"I look forward to a time when ‘touching tips’ is the universal lockdown greeting."
ODT publisher Allied Press will foot the bill to send the newspaper to as many households as possible. Company spokeswoman Optima Durant said the special publication will not be reproduced as an online or tablet edition.
The first print run will hit the press at noon today.