'So hard to watch': Grieving woman locked out of cemetery in lockdown

·4-min read

A devastating Instagram video shows the reality of what people are faced with if a loved one dies during a Covid-19 lockdown.

New Zealand-based Tipene Funerals shared an emotional video to social media on Tuesday of a grieving woman in traditional Tongan attire at the gates of a cemetery, as the hearse drives through.

"We love you, mama," the woman cries in the video, her sobbing still heard as the car makes its way into the cemetery.

Two security guards at the entrance slowly close the gate after the cars enter, shutting the woman out.

Under New Zealand's stage four lockdown restrictions, gatherings for funerals are not permitted. 

"The reality of a funeral under Alert Level 4 lockdown," Tipene Funerals wrote on Instagram, saying the video was being shared for the grieving family.

"We continue to face these challenging moments, yet we are grateful that families can entrust us to farewell their loved one with honour on their behalf."

A devastating video shared to Instagram, shows a crying woman at the gates of a cemetery. Source: Instagram/tipenefunerals
A devastating video shared to Instagram, shows a crying woman at the gates of a cemetery. Source: Instagram/tipenefunerals

Tipene Funerals said as the gates close at the cemetery, staff feel the "pōuri" or sadness for the grieving loved ones and they cry on their behalf during the burial.

The video struck a chord with many on social media, with some saying they could hear the pain in the woman's cries.

"My heart just broke into a thousand pieces hearing this," one person said on the video.

"So hard to watch," wrote another.

On Wednesday, health officials reported 75 cases in New Zealand, up from 49 on Tuesday and 53 on Monday, but still below a peak of 83 on Sunday.

Prior to announcing the figure, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield predicted that cases would continue to fall but some "bouncing around" would be likely, as occurred during New Zealand's last outbreak.

Of the new cases, 74 are from Auckland and one, likely to be a historical case, is from Wellington.

The new cases take the overall outbreak to 687.

Calls for tighter lockdown restrictions 

Dr Bloomfield told television station Three "it does look like we hit the peak a few days ago" when cases reached 83 on Sunday.

"People shouldn't worry if it does go up again. The key thing is we're on our way down," he said. While experts share Dr Bloomfield's optimism, they caution against weak spots among New Zealand's current settings.

Nick Wilson, a professor of public health at the University of Otago, called recent drops "encouraging", noting the lower proportion of transmission in the community.

However, he notes with concern recent reports of three infections at an Auckland chicken-processing factory.

"The Delta variant is very infectious and so you could have a problem with an essential worker, causing infection in a workplace, so we could still have a super spreading event," he told AAP.

"We've seen very big outbreaks in meat processing plants in the US with atmospheric conditions in these factories and people being in close proximity."

People cross nearly empty streets in the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand. Source: AP
People cross nearly empty streets in the central business district of Auckland, New Zealand. Source: AP

He recommends an upgrading of workplace mask-wearing rules.

On the weekend, Ms Ardern also foreshadowed a tightening of workplace restrictions, but on Wednesday Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said the government was happy with its current settings.

"We review information every day ... we haven't made further decisions on that yet," he said.

Dr Wilson cautioned against complacency.

"The government has been very slow on masks and it hasn't still hasn't mandated at the alert level four for masks in factories and office workers who are essential workers. That is one of its biggest mistakes, unfortunately," he said.

Among Dr Wilson's other suggestions are prioritising vaccination of essential workers and reducing worker numbers at businesses allowed to operated.

Respected Covid-19 modeller Shaun Hendy, a physics professor at the University of Auckland said he was pleased to finally see a downwards trend in this outbreak, predicting "ups and downs" in case numbers this week.

With AAP

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