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Waitaki’s largest bubbles are doing what they can to stay connected during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Residents at Observatory Village have been in full lockdown since the first case of community transmission was announced by the Ministry of Health.

The Oamaru rest home has not allowed visitors since March 22, with some exceptions for residents who were acutely unwell or receiving end of life care.

“Initially a lot of residents were understandably concerned and anxious about the virus and the thought of not having their usual friends, family and supports available to them,” Observatory Village general manager Rosie Dwyer said.

“Lockdown has not meant that residents have to stay in their rooms, they have able to walk around the facility and to continue with small group activities such as our exercise classes, housie, cards, craft, baking, happy hour and movies.”

The residents and staff were coping well with the changes, and it was encouraging there had been no cases of Covid-19 in the Waitaki district, Mrs Dwyer said.

“Our residents have all seen and experienced varying degrees of challenges and adversity in their lives and they have been very understanding about our restrictions that have been imposed on them.

“No-one likes it but they all understand the need for it.

“I have been so impressed with how well our staff have coped with the lockdown measures.

“[Staff] are fully supportive of keeping our residents safe, and I know that they are committed to seeing this through.”

Observatory Village was following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, Mrs Dwyer said.

“Cleaning regimes, hygiene practices have been increased.

“We are learning and gathering information as we go along. Some of our information has been in response to the unfortunate cases in aged care facilities in Christchurch and the North Island.

“We have extended our sympathies and support to Rosewood Home in Christchurch – it must have been a very difficult situation for them to have to deal with.”

After an initial delay in getting personal protective equipment, the rest home now had more than enough, Mrs Dwyer said.

“We may not need to use it, and we certainly hope we don’t, but we need to maintain our level of preparedness to respond if we ever have a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19.”

At Whalan Lodge, in Kurow, residents had been in “great spirits”, manager Sarah Green said.

They had embraced technology to connect with family, and kept busy by doing craft sessions and making grape jelly using fruit donated by Ostler Wines.

“The small staff of 10 have been amazing helping the residents stay in contact with their families by email, phone, Facebook, FaceTime, video messenger and WhatsApp.”

Rest homes would allow visitors in Level 2, with restrictions in place.