Forced into a pandemic-induced lockdown, demanding answers simply to have something to criticise has become a national pastime.
When there are no clear answers to difficult questions, it becomes akin to a cat playing with a mouse. Any attempt at a response invites being picked apart and relitigated as events unfold. Questions such as when will New Zealand be freed of the restrictions necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have no short answer.
Set timelines can be thrown to the wind when positive cases suddenly sprout up or drop off. Japan is currently debating a puzzling disappearance of the virus while the UK is blighted by the highest case numbers in Europe.
Tomorrow, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she will release the Government's targets and a new "traffic light framework". She says Aucklanders can't expect to live week to week and need a pathway out of lockdown - a remarkable lighbulb moment after the city has lived exactly like this for more than nine weeks.
The Government is accused of drip-feeding plans and, in foreshadowing Friday's release, making another announcement about an announcement. Again, this is criticism simply for answering the question: when will we be told about the Great Escape?
National Party leader Judith Collins yesterday released her business recovery plan, including $100 "dine and discover" vouchers to every vaccinated person aged 18 and over to support hospitality, accommodation and tourism. The deft move both rewards vaccine compliance as well as provides a fillip to hard-hit sectors, although the adminstration of such a measure may be cumbersome. It's also reliant on voucher holders bothering to redeem them.
All that is moot, however, as National is not in the position to offer such a scheme. It's an answer then to a rhetorical question but one that curries approval from the National support base, especially in small-to-medium businesses.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Of those who have been providing answers, some have received unjust and misguided criticism. Epidemiologists study the causes, transmission and distribution of diseases in population groups to inform public health programmes. Others also provide advice according to their fields of expertise. We have been more than ably served by our world-class experts who have worked around the clock to advise the Government and to inform the public.
The decisions being made on the country's pandemic response are sheeted home to the nation's executive body Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister and supported by the Covid Response Minister.
It is clear we need some answers to some crucial questions. How many intensive care units do we have ready for the expected hospital admissions? How many more breakthrough treatments for Covid-19 have we ordered? When will the first of those to receive the Pfizer vaccine, whose protection is beginning to wane, be notified of booster shots?
The biggest of all however, is the one Ardern has signalled may come tomorrow: What percentage of vaccination will this Government deem enough to begin lifting restrictions on the country's largest city and releasing the grip on a Covid-free south?
Get the popcorn ready.