Mike's Minute: The economy is strangled - why are the borders still closed?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 10:10AM

Mike's Minute: The economy is strangled - why are the borders still closed?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 10:10AM

So where does all this lead? Think about that. 

As we speak, people all over Europe are going on holiday. It is summer, some borders are now open, planes are flying, tickets are being booked, and you can go on holiday.

IATA last week issued a warning for countries like ours that if we keep borders shut we run the risk of being left behind. There is, of course, self interest in that. They are desperate for planes to fly and normality to return.

But for a country like ours, for regions like Central Otago, this is crippling. And it shows no real signs of changing, maybe even this year. Forecasters have Air New Zealand back to 80 percent domestically by Christmas, but internationally, there are deserts full of planes going nowhere.

So once the borders are open and people start moving, we start missing out. So then the question is, what's the big picture? Do we have any sort of plan at all long term? And if so, what is it? What is it we are waiting for? The whole world to reach zero cases?

The clue, of course, is in our lack of action over Australia or the Pacific. We have a handful of cases in isolation, Australia has issues but in the grand scheme of things exceedingly small numbers. The Pacific is good to go and yet we aren't going.

How is it England, with thousands of cases, is off to Benidorm? How is it the good people of France are off to the Amalfi Coast? Because they've worked out that they may have to live with this thing, they may never beat it, and there may never be a vaccine.

Is that our plan? Wait for the vaccine before we open the border? And how long are we waiting? Do we still honestly believe there is a vaccine by September? We might have a years old inflammation treatment that will help, but not cure.

We have a few pills and potions they discover that have some sort of effect. But while all of these maybes unfold, still the borders are closed, and the economy is strangled.

If the whole world opens to some sort of degree, we have seen what happens, people get on with it. If they want to travel and they can, they will. If it doesn’t include us, then the only loser is us.

IATA are, at least, in part right. We run the very real risk of watching the world move on without us. What was the point of a great health outcome if the economic one is a catastrophe? For a country that needs, relies on, and is beholden to the world, that's a disaster.