The Government's travel restrictions fit in with tough measures being wielded by nations against Covid-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that all travellers to New Zealand, including Kiwis, will have to self-isolate on arrival, except for people from Pacific islands. Cruise ships have been banned until the end of June. Yesterday Australia largely followed suit.
The moves put health considerations above all others. New Zealand has only a few cases but if there was any complacency about the coronavirus, disruption to travel, sports and events will have shaken it out.
Since Italy stunned the world a week ago by entering complete lockdown, a growing number of countries have decided that taking a hard line while there's still time is the best approach.
Italy's drastic move was an attempt to rectify a slow response which resulted in case numbers exploding — from 1128 to 17,660 — in only two weeks. Since then:
● The United States (2836 cases) has banned foreign nationals entering the US from dozens of European countries.
● Denmark (836), the Czech Republic (189), and Poland (104) have sealed their borders.
● Spain (6391) has gone into lockdown and France (4469) is closing some shops, restaurants and cinemas. Britain (1140) has banned mass gatherings.
● Belgium (689) has closed schools, bars and restaurants. Greece (228) has closed shopping centres, restaurants and bars.
● Argentina (34), Peru (38) and Colombia (22) introduced quarantines for some arrivals.
The virus has spread far and wide since it surfaced in China. South Korea found that free testing on a massive scale, emergency alerts for the public, monitoring some arrivals and using technology to trace infectious people helped it get on top of one of the largest clusters without citywide lockdowns.
As nations face a common foe, solidarity has been in short supply with a lack of obvious global co-operation and co-ordination. Former US diplomat Nicholas Burns tweeted: "We can't dig a moat around America, pull up the drawbridges and think we can be protected ... President Trump needs to stop blaming the EU and China and start working with them and others on global measures."
Common expert advice to populations and test kits from the World Health Organisation have been shared and some good ideas have crossed borders. But there have been no urgent summits or statements of shared plans of attack. The leaders of Britain, France and Germany have tried to rally their own peoples — rather than their region.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown questioned why there wasn't a collective response to find a vaccine, assess what measures work and deliver economic relief.
As each country looks inward, self-isolates and pulls up the drawbridge, we are probably getting an ominous preview of future life in a world under siege from climate change.