The Government's decision to extend Auckland's level 3 lockdown is a massive disappointment. Worse, it is a failure: a failure by authorities to properly prepare New Zealand for the inevitable return of Covid.
The disease was always going to come back. We've seen that across the world: Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Victoria.
If that was a given - and it was - why didn't authorities spend every minute since the last lockdown preparing the country so we wouldn't need another one? Those 102 days of no community transmission were days we bought for them with the first lockdown. Kiwis paid for it with their jobs, their businesses, their mental health, and other immeasurable costs.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association's Brett O'Riley says "the business community have done their part ... and it's only a reasonable expectation that every precaution is taken at the border to ensure that this virus is contained".
We did our part. Why didn't they do theirs?
This week we watched health authorities fail at virtually every task. They didn't have enough testing stations, they didn't have enough PPE for nurses (again), and, in a mind-blowingly stupid twist, we discovered they weren't testing all border workers to stop them bringing it into New Zealand.
Worse, after all that talk of needing a gold-standard contact-tracing system, they didn't have one. At the time of writing, several days after the first positive, they still can't trace back to find out how this family got Covid in the first place. Their contact tracing isn't good enough to figure it out.
They clap themselves on the back for their ability to trace 80 per cent of contacts within two days, but Auckland University medical Professor Des Gorman says they should be aiming for 100 per cent within two days. They've fallen over trying to trace the expanding contacts of four cases, when the system should have been able to handle 1000 cases a day. They were told they needed that much capacity on May 2, 15 weeks ago.
That is why we're back in lockdown. We're (again) buying health authorities and this Government more time to be able to trace people. That was the frank admission from Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Friday: "That will give us sufficient time to ... have contact-traced, isolated and tested".
It's hard to imagine a much easier scenario for contact tracers than this. One cluster, one family, their contacts, caught early, as the Prime Minister says. So, if our health authorities can't handle something this simple without locking down a city of 1.7 million, what hope is there that this is our last lockdown?
Lockdowns should not be the go-to option. They should be the last resort. They are too expensive. They cost people's livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses.
This is not an objection to the attempts to prevent Covid's spread. It is an objection to health authorities having no option but nuclear, because they weren't ready for something they knew would happen. It is an objection to the failure of those authorities and the ministers in charge of them to prepare the safeguards to prevent another lockdown.
My frustration is that Ministers Andrew Little and Kris Faafoi had a proposal for a decent contact-tracing system on their desks mid-April. Rolling Sam Morgan's CovidCard out to every person in the country would cost an estimated $100 million. The level 3 lockdown in Auckland is estimated to cost $440m a week. You do the maths. That tracking system costs the same as 1.5 days in level 3. It's a no-brainer.
We had more than three months without community transmission. It cost Kiwis so much to make that possible. Why didn't authorities use that time to prepare for the inevitable?
How many more times will they need to put us into expensive lockdowns to buy them time?