Mike's Minute: We need some magic to get out of lockdown in good shape

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 9:48AM

Mike's Minute: We need some magic to get out of lockdown in good shape

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 9:48AM

I think we have to take heart out of the numbers, don’t we? Surely this is the turning point of sorts we are looking for.

Yes, numbers are still rising. And no, the fact yesterday was slightly lower than the day before is not a trend, but the numbers in total don’t add up to much, the borders are closed essentially, those arriving back are down to a trickle despite the fact they are not being quarantined, and the clusters seem reasonably contained. You would, as amateurs in this whole business, be excused for thinking there seems little reason  why all of a sudden now, out of nowhere, the numbers would suddenly spike.

So using that as a working model, let us jump ahead a bit to the next crunch point, the next point of angst. What re-opens at the end of four weeks? Do we go to level two? What does that look like?

By the way look at level three, it's barely different to level four. So what opens at level two? How much of the economy is moving? And how much at that point do we reignite the argument we are already having as to what should be operating and what shouldn’t?

We will get a bit of a read on the economic damage as well. How many cafes don’t re-open? How many businesses are finished? Hospitality, as in tourism, and it's many wounds will be there for all to see, given the borders aren't opening and no one will be going on holiday.

So we will sort of limp into a new, reduced kind of economy. And that's the really tricky bit for the government.

Sir John Key is 100 percent right, getting into this was the easy bit. And as easy as it was to lock everything down, look at the messaging and decision problems we've had around that. You can triple them, if not more, on the way out. People will be desperate to trade, some will not be able to. Why not? They will ask this, with increasing levels of alarm.

Does the lockdown mean we are so pent up we go nuts, and social distancing is out the door? If you surfed and partied during a lockdown, lord knows what we're up to in level two? How much risk are you running with infection rates ballooning if we venture out?

And given that risk, how big a call is it to lower from level four anyway?

These numbers, if they hold, if they show a pattern, potentially put us in a world leading category. We are lucky we are an island nation, we are lucky we locked down so tight, we are lucky isolation seems to be working, and we are lucky there are so few of us to start with.

The bit we are in is eye wateringly expensive, perhaps too expensive, given the carnage already, and the carnage to come.

But this bit is actually easy, doing largely nothing is easy. How to return to normality, and what that normality looks like, and is reacted to, that's not just hard, its a mixture of  courage, guess work, luck, and potentially even a bit of magic.