I see Chris Hipkins is saying we won't, in this country, aim to be like the UK and take the approach that we just have to learn to live with Covid. Hipkins says lifting restrictions like the UK is about to is not a realistic option for us long term.
So it seems the eradication strategy is still NZ's goal. And if this is true, then are we in for a life of lockdowns and closed borders?
As of the 19th of July the UK, rightly or wrongly, is ditching all restrictions and opening the place back up, normal life can resume. They are desperate for it, let's be honest they've been locked down a very long time, but the new Health Minister's approach is – learn to live with Covid, take some personal responsibility, this is what it is.
That may sound terrifying to some of us. There'll be a lot of people in the ‘too soon’ brigade who will freak out at that freedom.
But if not now, when? When is it ever going to be ok to lift restrictions and how long can you keep a country locked down for?
One thing is for sure, schools need to get back to normal. According to one report, “Children have missed almost a billion days of school since the start of the pandemic,” that’s according to analysis by a think tank called the Centre for Social Justice.
That can’t be good for kids at all. Socially, pubs and other venues can open back up and will have to take customers details, but the previously tight restrictions prohibiting people from normal operation will be gone.
And I just wonder when you’ve lived with rules and regulations and a government telling you how to live your life for so long, whether in fact you are ready to just go it alone all of a sudden?
In a sense you lose the ability to make your own decisions and run your own life, you're used to being told what you can and can’t do.
In general terms, I’m a fan of this approach of personal responsibility and letting people live their lives, but then again I’m not inclined to be one of those people who goes nuts.
But how do you account for the people who do take crazy risks and flout their newfound freedom? And then you’ve got of course the potential conflict of those who’re sensible versus those who are not.
Are people going to start ganging up on each other and taking matters into their own hands if they feel someone isn’t standing far enough away from them, or hasn’t coughed into their elbow? What then?
It'll be an interesting experiment and I guess the bonus for us (if there is one) of being so far behind everyone else, is that we can look on and watch how it unfolds.
Boris is asking people to ‘exercise judgement‘ and ‘carefully manage risk’.. which sounds good in theory, but you have to be interested in managing risk, or responsible enough to exercise judgement in the first place, don’t you?
Which is why I think the world will be watching with interest from July 19th.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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