The joy of reunion has been tinged with sadness for Dunedin’s Garchow-Lilley family, as they mourn the loss of a family member.
The family has maintained two bubbles — one in Kenmure and the other in Portobello — during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.
The lockdown changed to Level 3 from midnight on Monday, allowing people to extend their bubbles to include nearby relatives and loved ones.
Kate Lilley, husband Tony Garchow and their two children Isaac (10) and Charlotte (7) Garchow have spent lockdown in their Kenmure home, along with their young dog Lola and two cats.
In Portobello, Ms Lilley’s mother Sherry Lilley (66) and grandmother Sheila Kerr (90) formed a bubble together for mutual support and health reasons.
The family’s loved father and grandfather Brian Lilley, husband of Sherry, died in February after a short illness.
“The lockdown has been a very tough time, especially for Mum and my grandmother, so we are really pleased to be able to extend our bubble to include them,” Ms Lilley said.
“The kids will be able to go and visit them in Portobello, and we can have family meals together, which will be really nice for all of us.”
Ms Lilley and Mr Garchow have been working full time from home and the children, both Balaclava School pupils, are doing their school work online.
The family’s devices had had a “thrashing”, Ms Lilley said.
“Technology is really coming into its own at the moment conscious that we don’t want the kids on screens all the time.”
Although the children missed their friends, their teachers had been supportive, quickly ensuring all children had devices to use.
Apart from work, school and regular home activities, the family had been out walking most days and enjoying the fine weather.
“It has been great to get out in the sun with the dog and the kids riding their scooters.
“This has been an emotional time, but I think we have coped pretty well.”