COMMENT:

As we awaited confirmation that we would move to level 2, my wife and I reviewed our experience of lockdown so far.

We reached similar conclusions - that the lockdown had been a bore and a bind, but that we have been, living where we do, among the lucky ones.

We had felt very constrained by the rules restricting travel and social gatherings, and by the prohibitions imposed on the over-70s - we were accordingly not able to do our own shopping or get to Tauranga to spend any time, even for birthdays, with our daughter and grandchildren.

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But, sitting on our deck and looking out over the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, it was hard to complain too much.

There was always the possibility of a walk on the beach in the sunshine with our little dog, and of coming across friends on the beach and having a chat, while maintaining the correct social distance - and one of our lovely neighbours kindly did our shopping for us.

And, as retirees, we did not have to worry about our jobs or getting to work or our incomes or businesses.

None of this means that we weren't glad to see the move to level 2.

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Easing the lockdown will take away a psychological burden that, no doubt, many people will have felt - that sense that we were not free to do what we want or were normally able to do. And, paradoxically, the inability to keep busy and the need to fill our days in other ways made us feel more tired and lacking in energy than we usually do.

But we were comforted by the knowledge that we, and our family and friends, were engaged in a great national effort - one that requires self-discipline and a sense of social responsibility, and keeping faith with others in a similar plight.

It is not just the feeling of making common cause with others that sustained us.

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Just a little thought was enough to convince us that the lockdowns have not only been socially and morally required but are also the most effective response to the real prospect of economic damage to our country.

We are surely not alone in recognising that the best and quickest - perhaps the only - way of minimising the economic price we must pay for the pandemic is to bring it to an end - and if that requires the lockdowns, then so be it.

It is that realisation that makes it so difficult for us to understand the mentality of those who continue to criticise and snipe from the sidelines, in an apparent attempt to weaken, fragment and unravel the national consensus we have established as to what is needed.

Such critics cannot seem to grasp that the virus brings with it the threat of real damage to us in a variety of forms, not just the obvious immediate impact it has on our health and fatality rate, and that the cost - economic, as well as emotional and social - of defeating it is part of the price it demands of us.

We can't find a short-cut route to save the economy without defeating the virus first.

Every attempt to weaken the national resolve, or suggestion that we might give up the battle and return to normal, represents a victory for the virus, and ensures that the price it will make us pay grows larger. The national effort is a collective one; the more united it is, the more effective it is. It is weakened every time an individual or sectional interest claims a higher priority or makes the case for special exemption.

That is why it is regrettable that Opposition politicians are already in election mode and that Simon Bridges recently grilled the Prime Minister on supposed plans she may or may not have to raise taxes after the virus has been contained.

This was in my opinion merely an attempt at political point-scoring, more suited to a general election campaign than a campaign against the virus.

The time for politicking will come in due course. It is not now.

-Bryan Gould is an ex-British MP and former University of Waikato vice-chancellor.