So here we are. After what seems both an eternity and the blink of an eye we come to the time to decide the next step in the battle against Covid 19.
The choice is simple and stark and yet so complicated and fuzzy. It is, as we are prone to say these days, unprecedented.
Do we extend the Level 4 lockdown or do we ease the strict rules and move to Level 3? There is no right answer because the cases for both are powerful. The consequences of both are also potentially calamitous.
On one hand, the business people of this country are right to fear an extension of the lockdown. Every day that goes by sees more life ebbing out of our economy. An extension will be the straw that breaks many enterprises backs.
Meanwhile, the health cost of a failed economy should not be discounted. A recession is bad for you. A depression is worse. It means a lift in poverty. Poverty means bad food, bad houses, bad mental health. Poverty kills you. It’s been estimated last week that the global Covid slowdown has put the global fight against poverty back 30 years.
On the other hand, lifting the isolation measures too soon could see wave after wave of infections meaning that in the lockdown could come back for an even longer period of time. Causing even more economic damage and killing more people in the process.
Health experts naturally tend to favour more conservative measures, because they have proof it worked throughout history.
The word quarantine was invented during the Black Plague in the mid-1300s. It was defeated when everyone was told to stay in their houses for 40 days. Sailors arriving in port were confined to the boat for 40 days. No argument. Quarantino. 40 days.
Guess what? A fortnight extension would bring our lockdown up to 42 days.
Both scenarios carry risk. Any decision will be a calculated list.
So, on one hand, people like Rob Fyfe will be pushing for an easement of measures. Health officials will be advocating for an extension.
This has always been a pragmatic government. And in that, there is an argument that they will go halfway between the opposing points of view which would see an extension of five days until we’re past the Anzac weekend. Giving the country another week to truly figure out how to do Level 3 properly. Because I believe the concept of Level 3 is not well ingrained in our heads as yet.
But the risk in that is that both sides will be unsatisfied and the airwaves will be full of accusations of indecision and a lack of leadership.
And that is why, I think there is a very real chance the lockdown status will be changed.
And then the ball is in our court. You and me. If we go crazy, pile the whole family in the car, scream off to a KFC 20 kilometres away and then picnic in the park, en masse, then Level 4 will be back quick smart. And you’ll have to ask yourself whether that family bucket was really worth it.