Credit to the Prime Minister for the brave call to take Auckland to level 2 today.
I don't imagine this was an easy decision.
It's a risk to take, especially given the new daily case numbers we're still seeing. Five new cases in the community today, two yesterday, 11 on Saturday. Compare that to the last lockdown: when we went into level 2 back in May, we'd had a string of zeros and low-level numbers like ones and twos.
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Consider also what some of the most high-profile health experts are saying. Shaun Hendy, whose modelling has informed the Government, wanted them to reconsider the move today. Siouxsie Wiles says she's worried about how long it will now take to get the cluster under control.
But, this is a welcome departure from the up-to-now uber-cautious approach. This is exactly what the business community and commentators have been urging the Government to do for months: deal with clusters through contact tracing and testing and face masks rather than lockdowns
Really, this is going to be the first real test of our systems and whether we can control outbreaks without lockdowns.
I'll admit, it is slightly worrying that leading health experts don't seem to have the confidence that these systems can do their job. But we've been assured by the Health Minister and the Prime Minister that they're good to go, and quite frankly, six months since the first Covid case is long enough to have got them ready.
There is no doubt this is political. The public mood is changing and tolerance for the second lockdown and the prospect of future lockdowns is dropping off. It's obvious Aucklanders have broke the lockdown rules repeatedly – from crowds at beaches to crowds at parks to underground church services. And there's at least one survey out now backing that up, with Aucklanders reporting less compliance with the rules.
I'm sure it's a call the Prime Minister would much preferred to have made on the other side of an election, not before it. Because if this backfires, and they haven't got the systems ready and able to control this cluster, imagine what that's going to do Labour's vote.
That's why it's a brave call. But this is the future. This is how we need to deal with future outbreaks. So to the PM and the Government, thank you.