Heather du Plessis-Allan: Pausing the bubble the right move economically

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Jul 2021, 3:45PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Pausing the bubble the right move economically

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Jul 2021, 3:45PM

The Government’s done the right thing suspending the trans-Tasman bubble today.  

Delta has clearly changed the risk calculation.  

It says a lot that New South Wales – which is the state that has managed Covid without having to go into a widespread lockdown this entire pandemic – has now been forced into lockdown. 

And even after four weeks of lockdown, it can’t seem to knock delta on the head. 

It recorded 136 cases today – that’s the highest daily total this outbreak. 

53 of them were still roaming around the community while infectious, which means this lockdown ain’t gonna end any time soon. 

You couldn’t really leave travel open to unaffected states. 

The land borders are proving a little porous. 

People have been sneaking from one state into another then flying to NZ and pretending they didn’t start their journey in a hotspot. 

111 of them have been busted and thrown into MIQ.  

I’m not generally a fan of being overly cautious but I think this is a simple economic equation. 

If we get even one case of delta, we will be heading straight into a Level 3 or 4 lockdown.  

That’s what we're hearing from the government’s advisors.  

So you have to weigh up the cost of that versus the cost of closing the trans-Tasman bubble. 

The trans-Tasman bubble isn’t seeing much traffic right now. 

NSW and Victoria are the biggest air routes to NZ.  

Both are closed.  

Which means there is not much benefit to our tourism businesses at the moment. 

A lockdown? 

Well, the cost to Auckland which is the city most likely to be locked down is between $45 and $75 million a day. 

A helluva lot more if it’s the entire country. 

So the maths there is simple. 

We are the last elimination country that hasn’t had Delta. 

Our border controls are so weak we have already had more than 100 people arrive without doing their pre-departure tests. 

Our vaccination rate is so low we’re sitting ducks. 

We could and should be getting on with the latter.  

Economically, closing the border to a country in the grips of an outbreak was the right move.