easter bunny
Image Credit: Pixabay

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 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 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," Ardern said, injecting levity into a serious situation and seeking to soothe anxious children yearning to head outdoors to play.

Ardern on March 24 asked New Zealanders to remain at home for a month to stop the spread of the virus. As Easter approaches 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 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 her comments, 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.

Ardern, the youngest female world leader, 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 U.N. General Assembly with her 3-month-old daughter in her arms.