Grand opening . . . Street Food Kitchen owner Jane Bowen and site manager Mark Bower prepare to open for takeaways at Alert Level 3 on Wednesday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Helen Holt

Street Food Kitchen staff are buzzing to be back at work under Alert Level 3.

New Zealand (south of Auckland) was moved from Alert Level 4 to Level 3 at 11.59pm on Tuesday, after 14 days in a full lockdown.

The change in alert levels allows contactless food purchases including takeaway food and beverages.

Street Food Kitchen owner Jane Bowen said there was a buzz in the air when Level 3 was announced last Friday.

“We’ve had zoom calls since lockdown. You can just tell that the staff want to be around other people again.

The restaurant began preparation for opening on Saturday.

“Ever since thursday after lockdown was announced, we’ve had a plan to prepare for Level 3,” Mrs Bowen said.

Staff had been in constant contact so they could open when they were allowed to.

She said the lockdown announcement on August 17 was quick, but not surprising.

“We sensed something was going to happen that evening after the first Covid-19 case was announced.

“The difference this time around was that we had been through Level 4 before, and we knew what to do.

“Things didn’t feel so scary this time around.

The quick change to lockdown did mean we lost quite a bit of stock. We do like to give some food away to the community, but that wasn’t possible this time around.

“We ended up giving it to our staff which was quite good because they couldn’t go to the supermarket on the night before lockdown.

It has been a busy fortnight for Presbyterian Support South Canterbury’s services.

Visitors and new admissions are banned from aged care facilities during Alert Levels 3 and 4.

Services for older people general manager Lizzie McIvor said mental health was a big priority in the rest-homes.

“Our activity staff have been keeping the residents busy. They have provided Skype links with family members to help them keep in touch. We’ve also encouraged our residents to buy a cellphone since last year to make it easier to keep in touch.

“The Croft staff have put up the Christmas tree and dressed up with tutus and wigs.

“Margaret Wilson staff dressed up for Daffodil Day last week.

Mrs McIvor said there was a noticeable rise in spirits as a result of the activities.

The community services, which managed the home-based support were busy, as family members could not leave their bubbles to help out.

Administration staff were preparing frozen meals and were also under more pressure than usual.

Betts Funeral Services was looking forward to holding services.

The funeral home held funerals over the internet for families during Level 4.

Funerals are allowed at Level 3, with a maximum of 10 people, and those attending have to maintain social distancing of 1m.

Managing director Julian Donaldson said he was looking forward to having physical services again.

“Lockdown has highlighted the importance of saying goodbye to loved ones. It’s something many people take for granted until it’s taken from them.

“It’s important for us to connect with the families during the funeral process. We can talk to them over the phone but it’s never the same. It feels quite cold compared to in person.

Mr Donaldson said about five families held funerals and casket viewings via Zoom, including one attended by 100 people using laptops. Other families had waited until Alert Level 3 to hold a physical service.

Most families planned to hold a second service at Alert Level 1 or 2.

Timaru schools are only expecting a small number of pupils to attend class this week. Pupils aged up to 14 are allowed to attend school if their caregivers/parents are essential workers.

Roncalli College principal Chris Comeau said he expected only a small number of pupils would be at school.

home if we can.

The teachers had taught online via Zoom, which would continue during Level 3.

“We’ve had good attendance during our online lessons. People are upbeat and want to learn.”

He said the school had tried to keep pupils entertained with online events such as baking competitions and an ice bucket challenge.

“We’re lucky to have tools like Zoom to keep us connected.”

Challenges of lockdown were the uncertainty of how long it would last, and keeping in touch with pupils without sufficient technology, he said.

“The Ministry of Education talked about providing for our students without internet connection or the right technology. Unfortunately we haven’t got any more information about them or when they were likely to arrive. Luckily it is a small group without the technology.

Mr Comeau welcomed the two-week extension of NCEA exams, but was waiting for more information from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority about how NCEA would function post-lockdown.