This is an opinion peice by Leah Panapa.
The anticipation was almost like watching the countdown to a rocket launch and knowing when those words ‘we have lift off’ were said, the rocket would shoot up into space. When the Prime Minister announced New Zealand would drop from Alert Level 4 to 3 at 11.59pm on Monday April 27 that same anticipation started for kiwis that were hankering for takeout!
Social media was abuzz with people musing on what their first purchase would be, others feigned disgust asking how anyone could want to leave their bubble for a burger or a fried piece of chicken? But even before dawn broke on Tuesday 28th - we had lift off!
137 McDonald’s restaurants started opening from 5.00am, with queues in the drive-thru forming from 2.00 in the morning, and at times through the day totalled over 50 cars. Fries, McNuggets, cheeseburgers and quarter pounders were the most popular items, but it was the original - the Big Mac - that was the burger of the hour with around 145 thousand making it out the pick up window.
Over 300,000 burgers were sold in the first 24 hours at level 3. That is a successful launch.
Under the rules for alert level 3, takeaway outlets can operate only “if you have pre-ordered contactless pick up or can provide home delivery” But some are concerned that people are not observing the social distancing rules after pictures of densely-packed crowds queuing for burgers sparked fears that we will be heading back to Level 4 before we know it.
A photo shared on social media showed a large crowd standing closely together outside Burgerfuel in Glenfield, Auckland's North Shore on Tuesday night, that prompted a response from the Prime Minister. Jacinda Adern was concerned by the what she saw and confirmed head office had been contacted and were reminded of their obligations, as a result that particular store will have crowd control.
It seems unfathomable crowd control is needed at a burger joint, but no one wants to see a spike in numbers of Covid19 which will force us back to complete lockdown. These companies have to seriously look at crowd control and be extra vigilant on keeping large groups of people at safe distances. Personally, I am not keen to join a queue for a burger, I am struggling as it is with the lines at the supermarket, but I am happy these companies are able to re employ staff - McDonalds had over 10,000 crew return to work!
What of the little cafes? The local Indian restaurant, or Italian pizzeria I hear you cry? Many are opening and by all accounts (going by my local community facebook page) they are getting great support! There are those however that are still struggling or have not been able to open at all and that is heartbreaking.
I think we as a country have done well so far, and if having a burger makes us feel that we are getting a bit of ‘normality’ back in our lives, I get that, personally I am over cooking and looking forward to my first ‘takeaway’ but I will support my local community and wait a little while longer before being seduced by the golden arches.