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caption: Elizabeth Mornin is originally from Washington and now lives in New Zealand. She says life there is pretty normal. "If I meet someone I can stop and talk to them,  I can even shake hands or give a hug without any second thought. We are kind of in our own magic bubble here."
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Elizabeth Mornin is originally from Washington and now lives in New Zealand. She says life there is pretty normal. "If I meet someone I can stop and talk to them, I can even shake hands or give a hug without any second thought. We are kind of in our own magic bubble here."
Credit: Elizabeth Mornin

'No masking, no checks.' This doctor shares her experience in Covid-safe New Zealand

This story is part of a series of first-person narratives documenting this moment in history, from the pandemic to the protests for racial equality.

I’m Elizabeth Mornin. I live in Waitati, New Zealand, just North of Dunedin on the South Island.

I grew up in Eastern Washington, lived in the Puget Sound region for about 10 years.

It's a windy and sunny spring day today, everything's green, and blooming, —really no different than any other day in New Zealand. No masking, no checks; come and go as we please around the country. If I meet someone I can stop and talk to them. I can even shake hands or give a hug without any second thoughts.

It helps that we're an island surrounded by water. We are kind of in our own magic bubble here.

Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called us the team of 5 million and everybody, with very few exceptions, got on the team and did what they were supposed to do. There was a sense of camaraderie in New Zealand, I think around that time. And people were very willing to band together and do the precautions and isolation, as was requested.

We only lost one patient in the city. And now we're back to business as usual in the hospital — we have no special precautions.

One interesting thing is that if we do go into a shop or a school, bank — any kind of building — we have an app on the iPhone, and we swipe the QR code that's posted in these places. That way, there's really good contact tracking, if there is someone in the community who develops Covid-19, they will put out a bulletin that says an active Covid case was in the supermarket at such and such place, from this time to that time. So everybody who was in the supermarket at that time can be checked and self isolate.

The holidays are coming up. For Christmas, usually our son will come over from the United States to be with us. We can't do that this year. And so that'll be the first Christmas away from him for 33 years.

I suppose we'll have a zoom Christmas.

This is kind of tough for me at the moment as both my elderly parents in the U.S. are unwell, and I'm unable to go see them.

I feel really badly for people in the United States and elsewhere in the world who are having such a tough time right now. But I'm lucky I can walk over to the little store and get some local milk.

In the evening, my husband and I can go up to the eco-sanctuary and feed Kiwi chicks.

So it's almost like we're in a lifeboat; we have quite a normal life.

I think we're all pretty proud that our little country was able to do this successfully on the world stage.

We wait with bated breath for the rest of the world to catch up.

This radio piece included music by Zachary David. KUOW's Voices of the Pandemic theme song was composed by Alec Cowan.