We talk to Matt from the United States, who started a new job in New Zealand amidst the COVID-19 crisis, needing to self-isolate in a hotel upon arrival to the country.
With our borders closed to most of the world, we find out what it’s like to arrive in New Zealand during a pandemic where the country is on lockdown.
Matt from the United States shares his story with us, talking to us while confined in a room at Quest Petone.
Staying at Quest during the mandatory 14 day self-isolation period and after that the Level 4 lockdown period, for the first 14 days, Matt didn’t leave the room. A game designer by trade, Matt spent many hours thinking about the view from his window – a building in need of renovation that could be used in a game.
A surreal experience, at least for Matt his bed at Quest was “amazing”, and his room felt cosy; he dislikes hotels where “you are intruding into the sanctity of this pristine space”.
Matt says the Quest Petone staff made all the difference, it could have been a miserable experience, but their help and reassurance made lockdown “much more tolerable”.
“The staff here went far above and beyond. During the 14 day lockdown for entering the country, they made sure we were stocked up on everything we’d need, got us equipment we didn’t have a chance to pick up (plug converters!) and even did grocery shopping for us since we literally couldn’t leave the room. In their own way, they gave us a taste of New Zealand, and I am incredibly grateful for that.” We’re equally as pleased to hear that Matt was looked after; first impressions count even in unusual circumstances.
So far so good, although Matt’s introduction to New Zealand has meant he’s missed out on a variety of home comforts, including southern food. At least the Internet has helped him to keep connected, and he’s been able to research local places to explore post-lockdown. While waiting for his work to deliver him a PC, Matt luckily had his PS4 with him. Perhaps this is something every hotel room needs while catering to the self-isolation market.
Matt did meet everyone else in the hotel from a safe distance during a 5 am fire alarm (thankfully a false start), but other than that, he has only briefly interacted with a couple of people. Everyone is taking their bubble seriously.
Matt says when it comes to keeping a safe distance from other people, the biggest change for him is not being able to shake hands. “It’s such an ingrained greeting that it feels super awkward not doing so when you first meet someone. Other than that, it isn’t terrible – people walk their way, I walk mine, and that is kind of it.”
Overall, Matt is doing pretty good, although he says isolation can take its toll on your mental state, even for introverts. “Being able to see and hear the pulse of life, even if you’re not one to jump into it often, is missed when it isn’t there. Walking on near-empty streets is a mixture of relief and a bit of nervousness – it’s unnatural.”
Matt doesn’t intend to make any international travel plans once the ban is lifted, focusing his efforts into settling here for a while. The hotel room seems to have exceeded his expectations; he even says he would consider New Zealand’s government facilities if he had to self-isolate again. Still, if it were the United States, he’d opt for a hotel room any day of the week.
Matt is glad he was able to stay at Quest Petone and is thankful for the staff. A staycation in a New Zealand hotel room is the closest we’ll get to overseas travel for a while, and it doesn’t sound too bad.