Covid 19 coronavirus: Stranded backpackers invited into Russell family bubble

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Stranded backpackers invited into Russell family bubble

Covid 19 coronavirus: Stranded backpackers invited into Russell family bubble

What do you do when you're 20,000km from home and in a lonely isolation bubble of one?

You hope a local family invite you to join their bubble.

That's what happened to two backpackers who ended up stranded in the Bay of Islands when borders closed worldwide as the Covid-19 crisis hit.

Laura Tuukkanen, from Finland, and Celina Brauns, from Germany, had been working in reception and housekeeping at Russell Top 10 Holiday Park.

Tuukkanen had been due to finish at the end of April while Brauns had just started.

The lockdown left them potentially without work or a place to stay, park manager Einnee Facey said.

With only a few guests staying put through the lockdown there was little regular work to do, so Facey invited the women to stay rent-free in exchange for odd jobs around the campground. They were given self-contained units so they could isolate themselves.

''But I was a bit concerned because they were on their own a long way from family and friends, and they didn't know anyone in town. Four weeks is a long time to only talk to people on the phone, so I invited them to be part of our family bubble.''

The women took up the invitation and are now part of a bubble which includes Facey and her partner, plus her sister Naomi Facey and her husband and children.

''It's been quite nice. We've got quite a big bubble which can have its troubles but it also means you can have different conversations.''

Facey said the business had tried to keep as many employees on as possible and had made use of the Government's Covid-19 staff payments. She had also put processes in place to keep staff safe in separate bubbles.

Tuukkanen, 31, said she originally planned to spend about five months working and travelling in New Zealand.

She thought about trying to get back to Finland but after being away from home for two years there was little to go back to.

''It's amazing they've done this, inviting us to join their bubble. At first it was kind of strange because normally when you hang out with people you're not told you can't see anyone else. But it's amazing to have someone to talk to, they're all super nice. They have kids too so I feel like kind of an extra auntie.''

Tuukkanen said she was grateful to have a job doing maintenance, gardening and random chores around the campground.

She was filling the rest of the time by walking, blogging, and writing a book about travel and self-discovery.

Brauns, 21, said she was ''really lucky'' to be staying at the park and not cooped up in a hostel.

"These guys are really relaxed and friendly,'' she said.

When she wasn't working Brauns was ''cooking lots of pancakes and good German goulash and putting on weight''.

Click here for the original article by NZ Herald.

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