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For me, Easter has always been an opportunity to spend time with my family. This Easter, with the exception of essential workers, most families in Canterbury will already have spent a great deal more time together over the past few weeks than usual, which can bring with it challenges. While we are all spending more time with the people in our immediate bubbles, we are however missing seeing our extended family members and friends.

In terms of bubbles, the Government has recently provided further clarification around this that may be helpful to some members of our communities. For children in shared custody arrangements, these should continue, with the children moving between the two households as long as they are within the same region. Meanwhile, people who live alone can join up with another person living alone or with a small household for support. You must live in the same neighbourhood and not interact with anyone else.

As we adapt to the new normal, we are seeing all around us (albeit from a distance) the best of human nature. People giving each other a wide berth on walks is now a sign of courtesy and care rather than rudeness. Neighbours and family members are making sure our older folk have the supplies they need. We are using technology to connect through video meetings and virtual catch-ups with our friends, to do online work-outs and engage in online learning in a way we have never done before. And our internet and communications systems are generally holding up well, further reinforcing the value of our ultra-fast broadband programme.

Despite Parliament not operating normally we have developed what I believe is an effective system in the form of the Epidemic Response Committee which is meeting remotely to review the Government’s health and economic response to Covid-19. The ability for the Opposition to ask questions of the Government and the opportunity for both Opposition MPs and Government Ministers to hear from experts is critical to ensuring New Zealand is responding in the best way we can to this crisis. The meetings of the Epidemic Response Committee are accessible to the public via broadcast on Parliament TV or livestream on the New Zealand Parliament website and Facebook Page.

Although there have been some shortcomings in the distribution of flu vaccines and PPE, overall our health system appears to be moving at pace to gear up its capacity to manage the impacts of this virus.

While I do not underestimate the size of the challenges ahead of us I have confidence in our health system here in Canterbury and the effectiveness of our community networks to get us through this.

I also have confidence in the resilience and coping abilities of our region’s communities, businesses and families. We have dealt with the Canterbury earthquakes, droughts and fires and we will deal with this crisis.

If you need help, seek it early and if you do not know where to go for help, please get in touch.

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