(TMU) – The world has changed a lot in the past few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but most of us have had a bit of time to familiarize ourselves with the changes. However, there are a small number of people around the world who were coincidentally off the grid when the pandemic began, and for these people, it would be very strange and jarring to suddenly return to the world as it is today.
That’s what happened to 67-year Bill Norrie, a Canadian sailor who recently arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, after spending the past three months alone at sea. Norrie said that he got bits and pieces of information from his wife through a satellite connection, but he couldn’t imagine what was in store for him when he reached the shore.
“My wife said, ‘The jargon is rounding of the curve,’ so now we’re six feet away [due to social distancing]. So it’s still sorta strange to me,” Norrie told New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ.
Norrie has been out on the water since September, sailing around South America, Africa and Australia.
When he finally arrived in Christchurch, he was surprised to have officials ask him to self-isolate.
“Initially they said, ‘You can’t come here,’ so I was like, ‘Where am I gonna go, right. I was the most isolated person on the planet, they didn’t want to let me in. It was too funny!” Norrie told reporters.
However, because of the fact that he was already self-isolating for a number of months, they ended up letting him go without the typical quarantine process.
Jim Dilley, the local harbormaster, told TVNZ that Norrie was deemed safe to re-enter society.
“He’s been at sea for three months, by himself, socially distancing, washing his hands, doing all the right things. We do have such a good network and a very good health system here, so we can afford that, in an individual case,” Dilley said.
Norrie doesn’t plan to be staying in New Zealand long. After a few days of resting and re-supplying, Norrie will leave to finish his journey and head back home to Canada.
New Zealand has seen a drastic decrease in their mortality rate in recent weeks, and authorities have recently decided to lift most of the restrictions in the region. The country has done relatively well in comparison to many of its neighbors. Officials believe that the virus has taken the lives of at least 21 people in the country and it is believed to have infected about 1,500.
The country’s new stage is ‘Alert Level 2,’ which means that “all businesses can open to customers if they can do it safely.”
Schools are allowed to reopen and short-distance travel is now approved, but all events over 10 people are still banned.
According to reports this week published in NewsWeek, China attempted to talk New Zealand officials out of their lockdown strategy. New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters said that Chinese officials called the country’s plan to battle the coronavirus pandemic an “overreaction.”