Barry Soper: Beehive's on-the-fly virus reaction

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Sep 2020, 10:29AM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Barry Soper: Beehive's on-the-fly virus reaction

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 15 Sep 2020, 10:29AM

COMMENT

There'll be nothing squeaky about the wheels of the Air New Zealand jets which will be once again be chocka flying around the country this week.

Many of us have been suffering under the squeaky wheel syndrome ever since lockdowns have become the order of our lives. There are simply silly things we've been told to do to stop the spread of Covid-19.

It's not so much the virus, it's the Beehive's on-the-fly reaction to it.

There are so many instances of the squeaky wheel crying out for oil since the virus hit six months ago. One of the silliest was expecting the nation's greenkeepers to sit for weeks being forced to watch their beloved grass grow. They were kept away from their golf courses and bowling greens because they weren't seen as essential workers.

How on earth they could have spread the virus by tending to their greens on their own was beyond them and they made a noise about it. It wasn't long before the Beehive took another look at it and decided the wheel should be oiled.

In the past six months an oil tanker's been required. The latest squeak to be oiled is social distancing on public transport because suddenly it's not required any more.

If you travel you will have noticed that Air New Zealand prices have hiked over the past several weeks which is hardly surprising considering the planes aren't full. They've had to turn away bookings because the passengers were required to social distance, or have an empty seat between them, which is hardly enough to be distanced nor is it enough to stop socialising.

Still passengers are all wearing masks and on August 24, when the mask-wearing on public transport rule was ordered by Ashley Bloomfield, he said they were simply an adjunct to social distancing, and not enough in themselves to keep us safe.

One of the more conservative epidemiologists, Michael Baker, publicly disagreed. The good professor said planes could still fly full because the masks were enough.

So as with many other changes of rules it was only a matter of time before the squeak was fixed - so what's changed?

Well three weeks on from compulsory mask-wearing our loquacious Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the masks on planes are working and there is good compliance in people wearing them. Truth is passengers have no choice.

Baker was clearly right all along and even though they wouldn't say it, Hipkins and Bloomfield have conceded.

In the meantime Air New Zealand lost even more money flying with empty seats and its competition Jetstar will be cranking up its planes again from Thursday, having grounded them because the silly rules made them uneconomic to fly.

Some consistency and maybe a little more forethought would be nice.