CBD empties as lockdown looms

It seems a strange way to define a town locking down, but in Wanaka yesterday the empty car parks were multiplying.

Every business in the CBD had parks right outside their doors as in the ‘‘good old days’’— before the tourism boom.

However, that motoring convenience is coming at a cost.

Businesses are either closed or closing as they prepare for the official lockdown at midnight tonight.

In a town enjoying — or coping with — industrial strength tourism over the past few years, the lack of people in the street seemed particularly noticeable.

There is no doubt the tourists largely have gone and taken their holiday atmosphere with them.

For Jane Groves, this will be the first time in 30 years her seven-day-a-week tourist shop, Kiki, has closed for more than Christmas Day, although it did close the day she got married.

Ms Groves, whose Australian husband is ‘‘stuck in Japan’’, is hoping to carry on their business online from home while she home-schools her three children.

The effect on her family would be ‘‘huge’’ she said, their income dropping from ‘‘quite good to zero’’.

‘‘Pretty scary times.’’

Everyone spoken to by the Otago Daily Times yesterday seemed to have a plan of some sort.

Coffee Shack owner Bonnie Lamb was open for regulars, distributing coffee beans to those worried about caffeine-free days ahead.

She was pleased Government measures would help keep her small business afloat and she was planning to spend the month painting, meditating, doing yoga, reading and gardening.

Wanaka businesses are shutting up shop. Photo: Mark Price
Wanaka businesses are shutting up shop. Photos: Mark Price


Wanaka Primary School staff met yesterday, in the hall rather than the staff room to allow for one metre of separation.

Principal Wendy Bamford said the school had a management plan for the next month including web-based learning options for families.

‘‘We have covered the whole curriculum and linked the plans into what they have been doing so far this term.’’

Seven children of people from essential services were at the school yesterday, and the same number was expected today.

The only staff at school would be the teacher for the class of seven, Ms Bamford and the office manager.

What constitutes essential services was still causing confusion yesterday.

A Christchurch truck driver with a load of tyres was waiting to hear if his job was essential, given that trucks delivering essential supplies would still need new tyres.

Mitre 10 was busy with last minute shoppers collecting trailer loads of do-it-yourself products in readiness for a month’s worth of home projects.

Bottle stores were also extremely busy, one retailer saying customers were afraid of ‘‘running out’’ over the next month.

The drink of the moment — gin — was flying out the door.

Also, as police everywhere, Wanaka police were reminding people about the need to self-isolate.

Senior Constable Bruce McLean said police had been advised of a number of ‘‘large parties’’ planned for public places.

‘‘Who actually thinks it is appropriate in the current climate to risk the health of others like that?’’


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