Covid 19 coronavirus: Stranded backpackers invited into Russell family bubble

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May 5, 2020

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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COVID-19 Level 2 Alert Park Status:

Level 2 Protocols in place from Thursday 14 May 2020 - Recreational Travel Allowed

An update to all our loyal guests during these surreal and uncertain times. As we navigate this situation, we continue to keep the safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members at the forefront of our thinking. We want to let you know more about what we are doing in our park in response to COVID-19.

We understand that the relative uncertainty we are all feeling right now might have implications for your confidence to book a stay with us over the next couple of months and, with that in mind, to give you confidence in booking with us, we have decided to introduce a “Book with Confidence Guarantee” .

What is the Book with Confidence Guarantee?

The Book with Confidence Guarantee is applicable if you are no longer able to travel due to COVID-19 related developments. For example: you become sick with COVID-19 or someone immediately connected to you does and you are forced into self-isolation, or the Alert Level changes meaning travel becomes impossible, or there is a Government mandate for you not to travel in your local area/region or the area you intend to travel to. In these and other similar cases there will be no charges levied to make changes to your booking dates. We will provide a 12-month credit or full refund (in exceptional circumstances, determined on a case by case basis).

Please be aware that where your request to amend a booking is not linked to COVID-19 developments, normal T&C’s will apply.

Who can stay with us?

In Level 2 and below, we are able to welcome all travellers again - excluding anyone who has COVID-19. During these times we have stringent health and safety protocols to keep our staff and guests safe:

- We are offering contactless payment and check-in (or face-to-face on request with social distancing)
- We are employing Best Practice cleaning and sanitisation procedures based on WHO and Ministry of Health guidelines
- We are maintaining social distancing in our communal facilities
- We are employing full contact tracing records management systems

We look forward to welcoming you at our park for some well-earned rest and relaxation (or adventure depending on what tickles your fancy)!

The Russell TOP 10 Team