LONDON: Billions of people worldwide are staying home to curb the spread of COVID-19, while medical personnel, police officers, pharmacists, grocery store workers and others deemed essential workers continue to work through the pandemic.
In New Zealand, that list gained two new additions after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy are considered essential workers too.
“As you can imagine, at this time, of course, they are going to be particularly busy at home with their family as well and their own bunnies,” Ardern said, injecting a much-needed dose of humor into a serious situation, and seeking to soothe energetic children yearning to play outdoors.
New Zealanders were asked on March 24 to remain at home for a month to stop the spread of the virus, which has so far claimed one life in the country.
As Easter approaches on Sunday, many countries will remain under some form of lockdown for the holiday.
Ardern offered a suggestion for parents to celebrate Easter with children while continuing to observe the rules of social distancing.
“I have a bit of an idea,” she said. “Maybe draw an Easter egg and prop it into your front window and help children in your neighborhood with the Easter egg hunt, because the Easter bunny might not make it everywhere this year.”
She acknowledged that the tooth fairy, given the nature of the job, might have it a bit easier than the Easter bunny during the pandemic.
“If the Easter bunny doesn’t make it to your household, then we have to understand that it’s a bit difficult at the moment,” she said.
Ardern is the youngest female world leader, a new parent, and has gained international praise for her way of governing, particularly during times of crisis.
Her compassionate response to the anti-Muslim terrorist attacks that rocked New Zealand last year won her appreciation globally.
After 50 people in two mosques were murdered in Christchurch by a far-right gunman who espoused anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hatred, Ardern embraced the Muslim community. “We are one, they are us,” she said of Muslims in her country.