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'Insanity': World divided over NZ's Omicron red response

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 Jan 2022, 2:06pm

'Insanity': World divided over NZ's Omicron red response

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 Jan 2022, 2:06pm

After more than two years of the Covid pandemic, New Zealand has once again imposed strict restrictions over just a handful of cases, and it has the rest of the world talking. 

New Zealand has been praised throughout the past couple of years for keeping the virus at bay. 

Now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's latest move has earned her even more applause from her fans – particularly as she cancelled her own wedding. 

However, others see the new crackdown as a step too far. 

In the UK, where there is immense pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down over a perceived lack of leadership on Covid, the move by New Zealand has particularly stirred debate. 

January 23 2022 PM Jacinda Ardern has confirmed New Zealand will move to the red traffic light setting at midnight tonight. 

Controversial British media personality Piers Morgan appeared to criticise the New Zealand Prime Minister. 

"Given over 90 per cent of New Zealand's eligible population has had at least two doses of Covid vaccine, and Omicron is indisputably a significantly less severe strain of the virus, I'm not sure why Jacinda Ardern is implementing draconian new restrictions and cancelling her wedding?" he said on Twitter. 

Some of his followers pointed out that the UK would do well to take guidance from New Zealand's attempts to stop the Covid spread. 

"NZ have had 52 deaths from Covid. That's not 52 thousand – it's just 52. Considering the UK has had over 150,000 what's your question again?" one person wrote. 

"It's called common sense. History will show that her leadership has been pretty much exemplary," added another. 

Responding to the tightening of measures in New Zealand, British MP Mark Jenkinson wrote: "Thank the Lord we're in the UK." 

Nile Gardiner, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, added that the restrictions equated to "left-wing insanity in New Zealand". 

However, Ardern has also received praise for setting an example in her leadership, even if it means suffering a personal sacrifice, by postponing her wedding. 

On Sunday, Ardern was forced to call off her own wedding as she tightened Covid-19 restrictions in the face of an outbreak of the Omicron variant. 

It came after there were nine confirmed cases of the variant detected earlier this month from a family who travelled between cities, flying into Auckland for a wedding, as well as the infection of a flight attendant on the aircraft they flew on. 

It was enough to see the country impose its "red setting" restrictions from midnight Sunday. 

These include limits on crowd numbers, including a limit of 100 fully vaccinated people at events, as well as mandatory face coverings on public transport and in shops. 

"My wedding will not be going ahead," she confirmed after detailing the new restrictions. 

PM Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her wedding to partner Clarke Gayford, as the country prepares to move to red traffic light setting at 11:59pm tonight. 

"I just joined many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic and to anyone who is caught up in that scenario, I am so sorry." 

Ardern and long-time partner Clarke Gayford have never announced their wedding date, but it was believed to be scheduled for some time in the next few weeks. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling journalists her wedding has been cancelled after announcing the country will move to red traffic light settings. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

The new restrictions are set to remain in place until at least the end of next month. 

"Such is life," the New Zealand leader said when asked how she felt about setting regulations which ended her planned nuptials. 

"I'm no different to thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far outstrip any sadness I experience. 

New Zealand has reported 15,104 Covid-19 cases and 52 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Tough border restrictions and snap lockdowns have been in place for much of the past two years. 

- Ben Graham, news.com.au