Antarctica New Zealand COVID-19 response update

20200418 Pegasus Crash1
13 May 2020

Antarctica New Zealand continues to focus on how we can support our research community in the face of the COVID-19 response. Scott Base is operating a normal winter season. Ironically, our 11 staff, living in one of the most remote places on the planet, have probably had more human interaction than the rest of us over the past two months! Our final non-winter crew member flew north to Christchurch in April as planned. The next scheduled intercontinental flight is WINFLY in August.

We have been working closely with the US Antarctic Program, and our other friends in the Ross Sea region, to plan the season ahead in these unprecedented times.

We aim to decide on a plan for the season on 1 June. We are committed to delivering a co-ordinated approach and are working through the various operational scenarios that address how COVID-19 may impact the season. This will be an unusually complex year for planning logistics as it will require the endorsement of multiple Governmental agencies including for border management.

Antarctica remains COVID-19 free and all National Antarctic Programmes, including Antarctica New Zealand, are united in ensuring it remains that way.

Most of our Christchurch team continues to work from home, although some have returned to the office. If you wish to come and visit one of us in the office, please call/email ahead to book a time, as we have strict health and safety measures in place.

A message from our winter leader at Scott Base, Rory O’Connor

In some ways it feels abstract and unreal what’s happening outside of Antarctica, it’s difficult to comprehend the scale of what many communities are dealing with. Everyone’s thoughts are with their family and friends all around the world.

As we are now in the winter period our day-to-day routine hasn’t changed, Antarctica remains COVID-19 free. Scott Base already has strict cleaning and handwashing routines in place given the remote nature and close confines of the base, and that remains the norm. We are closely following latest updates and thinking of everyone back home, kia kaha.