Kate Hawkesby: Staying in Level 4 may be the right call

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Apr 2020, 12:21PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: Staying in Level 4 may be the right call

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Apr 2020, 12:21PM

The safe money is on the government announcing a move to Level 3 today.

Cabinet meets at 10.30 this morning, we’ll have a decision by 4pm.

Both health and economic factors are being weighed into this, but one of the main things they’ll be looking at is whether our contact tracing is up to scratch. And by up to scratch, I mean Dr Bloomfield wants it gold standard.

He says it’s not there yet – but he hopes it will be in the next week. So can the government act on ‘hopefuls’ or does it need certainty?

Bloomfield's admitted contact tracing is tricky, and they’re rapidly trying to amalgamate the data held locally into a national capacity. They want to be able to trace 80% of people within three days. What are they currently doing?

Well, we don’t know; no one at the press conference asked that question unfortunately.

But did you notice the rhetoric around testing has changed? We were initially told unless you displayed every single symptom and had been sick for about a week, don’t ask for a test.

Yesterday the PM said even if you have a sniffle or a sore throat, get a test.

Initially the government were slow to provide transparency on testing and modelling, now they’re slow to provide transparency on contact tracing. We need more detail on that.

But under Level 3, what percentage of the economy actually gets restarted?

One estimate is that it’s around 16 percent. While that’s a great start, it’s not enough, but it's also all those employed in those 16 per cent of businesses will be operating outside of their bubbles.

That provides new opportunity for transmission. How many of this new surge of people outside of their bubbles will keep up the social distancing and recreational interaction required? How much of the rest of the population will see this gradual shift to Level 3 and relax their own social and recreational rules? If the marked increase in traffic on the roads these past few days is anything to go by, quite a lot.

Level 3 kickstarts a small percent of the economy yes, but does it lead to compliance issues and heightened health risks?

On this basis one could argue another week in Level 4 may be the right call, with a view to skip Level 3 entirely and head straight to 2. That would certainly appease more of the economy long term.

And appeasing those worried about the economy appears the PM’s focus at the moment.

She made a special effort yesterday to thank small business owners. Why? And why now?

Because she knows that’s where her votes will be lost.