No special favors: New Zealand leader turned away from cafe

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiancé, Clarke Gayford were turned away from a cafe because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines. (AP)
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Updated 16 May 2020

No special favors: New Zealand leader turned away from cafe

  • Many New Zealand restaurants have limited their seating to comply with the rules

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand’s leader found out there are no exceptions when it comes to social distancing after she was initially turned away from a cafe because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiancé, Clarke Gayford, decided to get brunch Saturday at Olive, a restaurant in the capital, Wellington. That was two days after the country relaxed many of its lockdown rules, including reopening restaurants.
But social distancing rules still apply, requiring groups to remain at least 1 meter apart from each other. Many restaurants have limited their seating to comply with the rules.
What happened next played out on Twitter:
“Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it’s full,” wrote one Twitter user, Joey.
Gayford took the time to respond: “I have to take responsibility for this, I didn’t get organized and book anywhere. Was very nice of them to chase us down st (street) when a spot freed up. A+ service.”
Another Twitter user, Joanne, chimed in: “This has to be the most Kiwi tweet I’ve ever read ... love it, love NZ.”
Asked for comment, a spokesperson from Ardern’s office said in an email that waiting at a cafe is something that anyone can experience during New Zealand’s virus restrictions: “The PM says she just waits like everyone else.”
Ardern has been widely praised for her swift and decisive response to the pandemic. New Zealand closed its borders and instituted a strict lockdown in March, and has been largely successful in its goal of eliminating the virus. Health authorities have reported just a single new case over the past five days. The country has confirmed a total of 1,498 cases, including 21 deaths.


Russians rush to public bath after coronavirus lockdown without hot water

Updated 30 May 2020

Russians rush to public bath after coronavirus lockdown without hot water

  • Public baths only way for many Russians living in smaller towns to wash themselves in comfort

TUTAYEV, Russia: Russian women flocked to their small town’s “banya” or public steam sauna when it reopened after the coronavirus lockdown, for the luxury of hot water after going without for six weeks.
The public banya is the only way for many Russians living in smaller towns to wash themselves in comfort as older homes do not have central heating or hot water supplies.
In Tutayev, a town some 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow on the Volga River, only 71 percent of the 40,000 strong population have all the conveniences, official data shows.
“It’s a necessity for us as we couldn’t wash ourselves,” one of the first banya visitors, Svetlana Travnikova, said. “How is it possible (not to wash), pandemic or no pandemic?”
Another visitor at Friday’s first session, Irina Kutavtseva, said going to the banya was a festive occasion for her.
Receptionist Tamara Bryukova, donning a mask and clad in rubber gloves, said calls from those in need of a hot steam were coming non-stop. Naked bathing means separate days are set aside for women and men and next week is fully booked, she said.
People had to book in advance to limit numbers for social distancing and have their temperature taken at the entrance, administrators said, and the hall-like steam room was disinfected after each 90-minute session.
Public banyas in many other Russian regions remain closed as the decision on easing lockdown measures is taken by local authorities according to the situation on the ground.
Local officials in the Yaroslav region, where Tutayev is located, had recommended banyas work “without visitors or online” to prevent the spread of the virus, a decision which caused a public outcry at the time.
“Banyas working remotely without visitors is a joke,” Tutayev resident Vladimir Kolomenskiy said, “and when people can’t wash it’s a health risk too.”