Around the world, billions are staying home to curb the spread of the coronavirus, except for medical personnel, police officers, pharmacists, grocery store workers and others who have been deemed essential workers in many places.
In New Zealand, that list grew by two after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced on Monday that the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy were considered essential workers, too.
“As you can imagine, at this time, of course, they are going to be particularly quite busy at home with their family as well and their own bunnies,” Ms. Ardern said, injecting levity into a serious situation and seeking to soothe anxious children yearning to head outdoors to play.
Ms. Ardern on March 24 asked New Zealanders to remain at home for a month to stop the spread of the virus. As Easter approaches on Sunday, it appears many countries, as well as states in the United States, will remain under some form of stay-at-home directive for the holiday.
But Ms. Ardern had a suggestion for parents to celebrate Easter with children while observing the rules of social distancing.
“I have a bit of an idea,” she said. “Maybe draw an Easter egg and prop it into your front window and help children in your neighborhood with the Easter egg hunt, because the Easter bunny might not make it everywhere this year.”
Windows have become one way to keep children occupied during the coronavirus pandemic and for people to socialize while keeping at a safe distance. Around the world, children have learned to swap their hopscotch, jump rope and basketball for scavenger hunts using windows. In the teddy bear hunt, adults place stuffed animals in windows, trees, parked cars and porches, and then children, on walks or drives with their families, try to find them.
In her comments, Ms. Ardern acknowledged the tooth fairy, given the nature of the job, might have it a bit easier than the Easter bunny during the pandemic. “If the Easter bunny doesn’t make it to your household, then we have to understand that it’s a bit difficult at the moment,” she said.
Ms. Ardern is the youngest female world leader and has gained international praise for her way of governing.
After 50 people at two mosques were killed last year in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a gunman who espoused anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hatred, Ms. Ardern chose to embrace the Muslim community. “We are one, they are us,” she said of the Muslims in her country.
Ms. Arden is also a parent. In 2018, she became the first world leader in nearly 30 years to give birth while in office, and then went to the United Nations General Assembly with her 3-month-old daughter in her arms.
Further cementing her reputation as a politician of the people, Ms. Ardern helped a man at an airport in February open his beer, as described in a tweet that gained attention.
“Grabbed a beer at the airport,” the man wrote on Twitter. “A lady’s pouring herself a wine, I wait cause the bottle opener’s front of her. Mid-pour, without even looking, she hands me the opener. I say thanks, crack my beer, look up.”
It was then, he wrote, that he realized it was the prime minister.
He referred to her as a “G” — short for gangster, which is used to describe a smart, smooth, cool and collected individual.