23 August 2021

Covid-19: Business Owner’s Devastation After Becoming a Close Contact

Christine Flynn had been back home in Winton for eight days, even opening her Mitre 10 store for extended hours, before she got the news.

Flynn, her son, and an employee were considered close contacts and had to get themselves tested for Covid-19.

The three were among the more than 1000 people who attended a Mitre 10 awards dinner at Spark Arena in Auckland on August 12 where a bartender tested positive.

She was relieved this morning to hear that their first tests had come back negative, just ahead of their day-12 tests on Tuesday.

Flynn heard she was a close contact during a video call with management late on Friday.

“It was pretty devastating,” she said, adding that because it had been so long since the event, she had been carrying on with normal life before going into lockdown.

“That first night, I really did not get much sleep.

“When we got the word [about lockdown], I was at a business association meeting, not knowing that I had been at a location of interest,” she said.

Even more concerning was the fact that her team had reopened the Mitre 10 Winton store to eager DIYers for an extra two hours on Tuesday night, just before New Zealand went into alert level 4, she said.

Store manager and Flynn’s son Craig said at the time that hundreds of people had been at the store.

They would have been considered contacts if Flynn or any of her team tested positive, she said.

Craig had been doing a wonderful job updating the Winton community on Facebook, Flynn said, but some people who praised the store for being open on Tuesday night also lashed out when they heard he and his colleagues were isolating.

“We didn’t know then,” Flynn said.

For the most part, the three had been surrounded by support, with friends stepping in to help with things like groceries, she said.

Flynn had been in the garden to keep her mind occupied.

She has owned Mitre 10 Winton since 1996 and son Craig has been managing the store since 2003.

Ethan Smith, who joined them in Auckland, joined them in 2012.

They were looking forward to getting back to normal and seeing familiar, smiling faces, Flynn said.

She also thanked her team for working under tough restrictions.

Meanwhile, a handful of Southland Bayleys Real Estate staff are also isolating after the same Covid-19-positive bartender worked at their awards dinner at the Spark Arena on Friday, August 13.

Bayleys communication director Chris Gwin was unsure of exact numbers but said the business did not have many agents in Southland.

More than 1100 people attended the event, he said.

They had undergone Covid-19 testing over the weekend, he said, and so far all results had been negative.

“It is pretty tough and challenging. Everyone wants to do the right thing,” he said.

“Everyone is committed to protecting the communities they work in,” Gwin said.

The Southern District Health Board confirmed that at least 40 Covid-19 contacts were self-isolating in Southland and Otago.

These numbers might rise as new data emerged, a spokesperson for the board said.

The 40 people had all been at a location of interest at the same time as a person who tested positive for Covid-19 while they were infectious.

The Ministry of Health revealed Monday that at least 120 people who were at Auckland hotspots were self-isolating in the South Island.

A total of 9769 vaccinations were delivered in Southland and Otago over the weekend – 3367 of which were done at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin – while 690 Covid-19 tests were taken by WellSouth staff and general practices in the district on Monday.

A WellSouth spokesperson said 6500 swabs had been taken in Southland and Otago since New Zealand moved into alert level 4 on Wednesday.

Published by Stuff.co.nz – 23 August 2021

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