Despite the 100 days that have passed since the last known case of community transmission, New Zealand has no room for complacency. Anyone wanting to argue this point need only look across the Tasman Sea and note the struggles of Victoria and other Australian states. They should also consider the fact that no one in New Zealand wants to go back into lock down for very obvious reasons. Only then, after asking themselves if that torpedoes their argument, can they debate the level of danger COVID19 poses to New Zealand.
For myself, my work, the risk of COVID19 coming back is one I/we cannot afford to ignore. The rental car sector has suffered with the plunge in tourists and other users wanting cars to drive. The fact that Avis Budget Group has announced potential job losses should not come as a surprise. More companies – if they have not already done so – will be considering whether they can afford to maintain current staffing levels. Most tourism comes from international tourists and the high season in summer is the busiest time of year for tourism businesses.
The same goes for hospitality businesses. Whilst New Zealand is largely back to normal, a number of small hospitality businesses such as bars, cafes, restaurants have been forced to close because the economic impact of everyone staying home was not something that they could afford. If a second wave of COVID19 comes, and medical experts say that there is a good probability it will, without a shred of doubt New Zealand will be in big trouble if we open our borders.
The need to maintain vigilance was noted in a newspaper article in The Press yesterday. Last week Ministry of Health Director General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that New Zealanders should have masks ready to go in case New Zealand finds itself having to rapidly increase the COVID19 Alert Level. This warning has seen a surge in mask purchases being made around New Zealand.
At an individual level I now wear gloves all day every day at work. I wash my hands more frequently and use hand sanitizer upon entry to any store that has it available. I am more conscious of my health and am more likely to stay home if I have a minor cold instead of having a pair of Immunofort tablets to give me 12-18 hour relief.
However not everyone believes the danger exists. Aside from the fringe parties on the far right, such as New Zealand Public Party which believes COVID19 is a scam and that it is being used as a disguise for a government seizure of ones rights, there is more moderate – yet politically desperate – resistance emanating from National and A.C.T. who believe that the borders should be reopened so that non-New Zealanders wanting to conduct business here can enter. Neither National or A.C.T. have indicated any recognition of the fact that the very tourism industry that they claim to be supporting wants a reopening of the borders, because it is simply too dangerous.
If COVID19 is the scam that so many are saying it is, then why is it out of control around the world? Why is the public so trusting in the Government I have heard some ask. The answer is simple: just this once the Government of the day in New Zealand has largely done very well in containing COVID19. I know this because I have American friends who are openly jealous of how well we are doing. I cannot blame them.