Yesterday was DAY 41 of New Zealand in lock down as we fight the COVID19 pandemic.
For the last nearly 6 weeks New Zealand has been in first, LEVEL 4 lock down and now LEVEL 3 lock down as we approach what I believe will be the most important date in the war against COVID19. 11 May 2020 will be a date where the Government either, out of an abundance of caution chooses to continue at LEVEL 3 for a bit longer, or sets a date for some form of LEVEL 2 to kick in.
This date is critical for a number of reasons:
- The economy is being absolutely battered and the longer it is on ice, the bigger casualty list of businesses and the higher the probability of lasting damage
- New Zealanders are wanting their lives back – who can blame them; for a time the Government enjoyed an unprecedented level of compliance, but the social harm and the mental harm being done is increasing rapidly
- New Zealand is nearing a stage where compliance will decrease in inverse proportion to non-compliance with COVID19 restrictions, a stage that I believe will be reached not later than two weeks from now
- Given that LEVEL 2 still has restrictions, people will be wanting to reach it sooner rather than later so that they can get it over and done with and go to LEVEL 1 where New Zealand will be essentially operating again
- The election – no more need to be said
Thousands of jobs have been lost across the country and much needs to start happening soon to contain the economic damage before it becomes lasting. Employers big and small have closed shop, cut jobs or announced other substantial measures to reduce their exposure to COVID19. From Air New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s biggest and most distinct employers where 3750 jobs have gone or are going, to the Heritage Hotel at Mount Cook where 170 out of 178 jobs have just been cut, employers of national and regional significance are trying to minimize their losses on a scale not seen since 1987 and possibly before that.
The social and mental harm being done to New Zealanders will not be minor in the least, and it is showing up now. Mothers on social media are talking about their children having massive and prolonged melt downs for no apparent reason and then when they’ve calmed down enough to talk, they say they are missing the play grounds, their mates, play dates and so forth. For a young child in their formulative years this is not minor. For those who have lost loved ones and are hurting inside without being to grieve properly with their relatives and friends, the longer a funeral or tangi is delayed the greater the internal pain I imagine they must have to deal with.
With the onset of LEVEL 3 there was an immediate increase in non-compliance. Despite the Police saying that they will take a dim view of people breaching their bubbles, hundreds of New Zealanders have already been pinged by the blue arm of the law for having parties, ignoring social distancing requirements when in public. With COVID19 starting to appear to be on its last legs, people are getting impatient and that impatience is only going to increase. And it is not helped by Members of the Opposition parties – notably A.C.T. leader David Seymour, National leader Simon Bridges, M.P.’s Todd McClay and others who think civil liberties are being eroded and that the Government is is now on a piss take.
With COVID19 on the run and hopefully out of new cases to spring upon New Zealand, there is also the knowledge that LEVEL 2 has restrictions attached as well. Events with 500 people or more will not be able to happen. Social distancing will still be maintained, which in bars and restaurants where a degree of intimacy and interaction is a significant part of being there in the first place, is going to cause problems both for bar operators, the authorities and patrons alike.
New Zealand is in unchartered waters and how well we navigate these last few weeks of COVID19 territory could have an impact on how people voted at the election. Whilst I expect the Government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to get a high pass mark on the whole, blowing the public’s goodwill will cause unnecessary harm that National and A.C.T. will not hesitate to pounce on. Just because the Government is almost able to govern alone according to polls does not automatically guarantee it will have those numbers on election day. Ms Ardern and her Government would do well to remember that.