Covid-positive food cart owner homeless, 'abandoned' in Queenstown

by Kim Bowden - Nov 18, 2022

A food cart owner this week found herself sick with Covid and homeless in Queenstown.

Danna Burton tested positive for the virus while staying at a downtown backpackers she calls home.

Ms Burton has a house in Invercargill, but she’s based in the Queenstown Lakes District, where she works for a hospitality group while running her mobile French creperie. 

On testing positive, she rang down to the reception of the backpackers, to say she was holed up in bed in her room.

She was told by staff she’d have to leave, as the backpackers has a policy of no-Covid stays.

Ms Burton says she’s doesn’t have a vehicle in Queenstown and had no way of making the trip home to Invercargill.

Instead, she found herself at a local park, with a bag of belongings, no food, no mask and nowhere to go.

She’s telling her story because she’s worried with borders open and more holidaymakers and seasonal workers returning to town, and Covid on the rise again, her dilemma won’t be unique.

“If this has happened to me, it’s already probably happened to someone else.

“I just felt abandoned.”

It's still a requirement for people with Covid to isolate, so she reckons the community needs to step up to ensure support services and information are readily available to people who find themselves in a situation like hers.

“We’re all trying to get back to where we were, but turning a blind eye to this stuff is not the answer.”

It’s important for not just the wellbeing of the indivdual, but in the interests of public health and the reputation of Queenstown as a tourist destination, she says.

“There’s a lot happening in Queenstown right we really want to be known as the place to go to catch Covid?”

She says she’s not angry at her accommodation supplier, but she does think they should have been transparent from the start about their Covid policy.

Eventually, Ms Burton found the support she needed – local health authorities provided a four-night stay at a hotel (no more as marathon visitors filled rooms heading into the weekend) and the Salvation Army dropped off some food supplies.

Speaking to Crux, she sounds blocked up and wheezy but with her own roof back over her head in Invercargill, after a mate with a roomy van delivered her back home.

“I just want other people, other businesses to be aware that if they’re in a similar situation they need to put all their ducks in a row. There is still help, the Ministry of Health is still helping, but it takes some time.”

Main image: Danna Burton, a common face around the Queenstown waterfront with her mobile creperie, was kicked out of her backpackers home this week after testing positive for Covid-19.



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