Level 3 for most probably doesn't feel much different to what went before. Our family continues to stay at home, our bubble remains intact and the challenges of level 4 are pretty much still there.
For me in a personal sense, the most cutting challenge of the past few weeks has been the lack of social contact and the absence of the venues through which that was/is facilitated.
However, I am delighted that our hospitality sector can start moving again through contactless service – but until we get to level 2 it will possibly feel like it is a motor-race with the safety car out and all participants moving at quarter speed.
Which is why I am looking out and waiting for the medium- to long-term plan from decision-makers who made the move into lockdown.
And lockdown, it appears, is bringing out many movie references in conversation and my writing – so here comes another, which I think aptly describes where we are at now and where we could be headed if the "smartest people in the room" take too long to develop, and most importantly test, a long-term strategic plan for the country and economy.
While our kids were in their pre-primary and primary years, a favourite film was "Finding Nemo".
Like NZ and the world dealing with a "novel" virus, a group of fish in a fish tank wanted to escape their situation and return to the sea (the old normal).
Their leader (Gill) hatches a plan, noting the fish tank (the current normal) has become uninhabitable and sets about forcing their owner to place them in plastic bags (bubbles) and remove them from a bad situation.
The bags containing them and salt water were determined to be ideal vehicles or modes of escape from the danger of a future existential threat (the owner's daughter who had a track record of killing a fish every now and then).
The plan was hatched and, eventually but not without peril, was it executed successfully with all the fish (still in their sealed plastic bags (bubbles)) ending up in the harbour bobbing up and down, unfortunately not able to leave their bubble.
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At which point one of the fish says "now what?". Now what indeed.
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In any planning exercise, even down to regular functions like budgeting, probably the most important part once a vision and successful outcome has been defined, is evaluating the possible scenarios (those that occur on the way and also those that follow the outcome).
And, in what is a massive challenge for policy-makers, when you are covering new ground and lack experience in dealing with a particular issue, these scenarios become more challenging to describe and quantify.
In the movie, Nemo, his father (Marlin) and another fish who had short term memory loss (Dory) chose a very different escape method, one which on the face of it was more challenging but in the end they made it back to the ocean and eventually home.
When you evaluate the paths taken by the two groups both could be seen to be successful in the first objective.
But, if you take into account the life expectancy of a domestic fish, trapped in a plastic bag with minimal water and with the sun beating down on them I'd estimate that the second group probably didn't last more than a couple of hours.
However Disney (and Pixar) don't like to break the hearts of their viewers – except of course if you were a fan of Star Wars – so that outcome was not part of the film.
The point is, before finalising a plan and acting on it, there needs to be evaluation of potential outcomes. And in this environment, this is something I am talking about with a number of businesses.
At a macro level this process is just as crucial.
Let's say we "eliminate" Covid-19 in New Zealand (and the definition of that is dangerously loose at this time), does this mean our borders will be shut until a vaccine appears (which may be a long time off production, let alone getting it into the hands of New Zealanders)? what does that mean for businesses that rely on immigration for example?
How do we manage imports and the supply chains that bring goods in? How do we boost domestic tourism? How do we stop a future outbreak in a community (and its impacts on systems) with minimal herd immunity?
These are just a few questions (of many) I have, which all require consideration, an answer or approach (and all need to be tested with rigour).
Because the stakes are so high, we don't want our country, economy and our own bubbles bobbing around on the ocean over-exposed to the elements.