Farmer Focus: I’m nervous as we enter another lockdown in NZ

Compared to the rest of the world, we have had a very fortunate escape from the ravages of Covid-19, largely because we are bobbing away in the ocean, 4,000km from anyone else.

The Delta variant of Covid-19 has arrived, which many would say was inevitable, but unfortunately vaccination rates are the second lowest in the OECD.

As a result we were plunged into a nationwide lockdown with six hours’ notice on 17 August when one random case was found in Auckland.

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

Level 4 Lockdown for us is essential workers only, all schools closed, and everyone confined to their house unless buying food or medicine.

See also: Lead shot contamination in milling wheat ‘disappointing’

As of 7 September, Auckland remains the centre of infection and remains in Level 4, the rest of us have had a week of partial reopening of service businesses and tomorrow sees a further opening of activity.

The outbreak was genomically linked to a traveller from Sydney who tested positive in a managed isolation hotel in Auckland.

The official line is that no clear pathway out of the isolation hotel into the community has been identified.

However, it was reported that the isolation hotel also hosted a vaccination clinic in its atrium and isolating returnees and the public shared the same air space in the atrium.

There are not too many dots to join up there I would have thought.

We are now extremely vulnerable, we were unable to keep Delta out of New Zealand, so I have little confidence that it will be contained within Auckland, let alone be eliminated again.

We are doing everything we can to fortify our business, to protect our family, our staff and otheur community around us.

Spring is busy in normal times, but in lockdown we are having trouble getting supplies.

Our biggest single business risk outside of the farm boundary is Covid-19 leaking into the meat processing plants and slowing the processing of lambs being finished on our ryegrass seed crops prior to closing.

We had a huge natural advantage to keep Covid out until we got our population adequately vaccinated to withstand this virus, we no longer have that luxury. I am nervous.

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