Lockdown burial: Northland man will watch from road as wife laid to rest

A Northland man will watch from the road as his wife of 53 years is laid to rest this morning.

The man from Whangarei said he was “beside himself” on Saturday morning as he set up a Zoom link for family members and faced the prospect of farewelling his wife from afar.

Under alert level 4 restrictions he is unable to enter the grounds as his wife is buried.

“My wife’s burial is at 11, but we’re just setting up the Zoom to try and get ahold of people,” said the man, who asked only to be known as Paul.

“The gravediggers will put my wife to rest at the cemetery and then at 10.30 I’ll take her casket to the undertakers.

“They’ll take her up and we have to stand out on the road.”

He had also been made aware he could be removed from the grounds if he failed to comply with level 4 restrictions.

“I said to the undertakers, ‘when my wife is ready to be put in the ground, what happens if I go there?'”

“He said ‘we’ve been instructed if anybody comes on the cemetery ground, we are to put the casket down wherever it goes, and they will call the police and they will take you away.'”

The country remains in alert level 4 until midnight on Tuesday, August 31, but Paul had been hoping for an earlier alert level shift in Northland, due to the lack of community cases.

At the Government’s alert level announcement on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they would be taking a cautious approach, extending the nationwide lockdown for another four days.

As alert level 3 allows for funerals of up to 10 people, Paul and his family had been planning with the expectation of an alert level shift being announced for midnight on Friday.

“If we were at level 3 my brother would have come down … and we would have been allowed on the grounds,” he said.

“As far as the people are concerned there’s no reason for us to be in level 3.

“Northland’s got no Covid … Where’s the empathy, the ‘be kind’?”

Unlike the rest of New Zealand south of the Auckland border, Northland would remain in alert level 4 lockdown beyond Tuesday, along with Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had signalled Auckland would likely remain at level 4 for a fortnight thereafter, but it was unknown how long Northland would remain in lockdown.

The decision to keep Northland in level 4 had been made partly due to a positive case in Warkworth, Ardern said.

An update for Northland would be provided when Auckland settings were confirmed on Monday.

Ardern said it was unlikely Northland would be kept in the same alert level as Auckland for a long time.

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