Kate Hawkesby: How does Ardern think alert levels are good for the economy?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Sep 2020, 10:30AM
Photo / File

Kate Hawkesby: How does Ardern think alert levels are good for the economy?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Sep 2020, 10:30AM

COMMENT

So after 14 days at 2.5 in Auckland, the news was not great yesterday was it?

It's all about the cluster, and its tail. The Government needs to see that peter out.. it doesn't want to rush.

No, no, God forbid we rush.

So based on the advice from director general of health Ashley Bloomfield, which was of course "cautious", Aucklanders will keep languishing in level 2.5, the rest of the country remains in level 2.

If all goes well, the rest of the country may get to transition back to level 1 on Monday, September 21. Aucklanders will also hear that Monday if gathering limits can be increased.

Any changes would come into effect that Wednesday, September 23. Whether that means we get to level 1 or not at that point remains to be seen.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern justified remaining in level 2 as a "safety barrier," she said, just in case cases move out of Auckland.

She did however, choose to throw Air New Zealand a bone, which will come as a huge relief to the national carrier. Physical distancing rules are going to be eased, not just on planes, but also buses and trains.

Masks continue to be compulsory obviously, but there'll be no more gaps between seats or capping on numbers of passengers. Good to hear, that's a massive relief for our beleaguered national airline.

I'm not sure what's different between now and three weeks ago to make that possible, but there you go.

The most remarkable statement made by Ardern, I thought, yesterday though, was that this has all been great for the economy.

She cited data which showed economic activity had bounced back to alert level 1 figures, which she said shows we are still shopping to keep our economy moving.

Are we?

All we're hearing anecdotally is how tough this is for businesses, how many can't make ends meet, how many are facing closure.

But our Covid strategy remains the same - elimination. Ardern's doubling down on that. In doing so, she reminded us again of her favourite catchphrases - this is a global pandemic... we need to be cautious... we need the time to execute this strategy.

While this conservatism and cautiousness may be swallowed up by the fearful and the faithful, it certainly wasn't something Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was having a bar of. He invoked the Coalition Agreement's "Agree to Disagree" provisions.

Not that it made any difference, Cabinet had a majority anyway.

But we can see NZ First's behaviour for what it is, can't we? Blatant electioneering. They've done their chips, they're the ones who put this Government together in the first place, so it's all a bit late to rail against it now.

So level 2 for another week, we are buying more time.

The question is, what will this fixation on elimination end up costing our economy?