Pacifists have a rallying cry that goes: "Imagine if they declared a war and nobody came." Auckland publican Leo Molloy, who is not at all a pacifist, made a similar call to the city's restaurants, bars, hairdressers and the like last weekend: "Imagine if they declared a lockdown and nobody closed."
Well, he didn't precisely say that. He said to those whose business is still locked down, "Let's make a date. Let's hold hands and draw strength from each other. Let's put a circle around Wednesday, December 1 ... Let's show the Government we'll bend no longer.
"This isn't about civil disobedience," he wrote in the Herald on Sunday, "this is about the healthy and the vaccinated saying 'enough is enough, we want our lives back regardless of whether the unsympathetic government has the traffic light on orange, green or anything in between'."
It isn't about civil disobedience yet. He picked a fairly predictable freedom day, December 1. Ever since the Prime Minister announced the Cabinet would review its alert levels at its usual Monday meeting on November 29, in the light of vaccination rates by that time, December 1 was odds-on. But not certain.
It is still not quite certain. Even this week, with Auckland set to be 90 per cent second-dosed by the end of the month, the Prime Minister would say only that the Cabinet had a "strong expectation" that all business can open for vaccinated customers sometime after November 29.
Would it be the Wednesday, a reporter asked, or would it be a week later? She would not say. Several times the press conference attempted to put the date beyond doubt but each time she repeated the "strong expectation" line, giving a tantalising smile with the third or fourth repeat.
I think the country is getting a bit sick of this. I know Auckland is. Last week we had an "in principle" decision to go to step 2 and had a needless wait of a week for the decision to be confirmed. Now we're told to expect an announcement this Monday about when we can travel outside the region again.
If the Cabinet knew a week ago it could make this decision, why are we waiting? Vaccination rates in the rest of the country were not going to improve crucially this week. Does the Government enjoy keeping us in suspense? Or is this just symptomatic of the excessive caution that has characterized its whole response to Covid-19?
If this was a government with any sympathy for business, it would provide some certainty of the future whenever it could. Last year there was not much certainty anyone could provide about the course of a very contagious new virus. But the advent of a vaccine gave the Government much greater scope to make definite decisions.
Long ago it could have announced a date when it would no longer resort to lockdowns. November 1 would have been reasonable, I think, considering everyone eligible for a vaccine has been able to get one since September 1. But, being a Labour Government, it has been reluctant to leave the uptake of the vaccine to personal choice.
It is only now that it sounds resigned to giving people slow on the uptake the message: Aucklanders are coming, ready or not. It realises it cannot keep the city's bars and restaurants closed beyond this month and cannot keep us confined for Christmas. We might even see outdoor tables permitted next week. But all of this remains conjecture when it should be definite by now.
For that reason I hope Molloy maintains his campaign. If every cafe, barbershop, tattoo parlour, restaurant, bar, hairdresser and beauty salon in Auckland resolves right now to open on December 1, begins actively stocking and advertising to open on that day come what may, the Government would not dare make any other decision.
Every government knows there is a limit to the restrictions you can place on people accustomed to living in a free country. The protests Ardern has faced (or not) these past few weeks, especially the big one at Parliament on Tuesday, do not appear to be primarily anti-vax. They include vaccinated people who object to being hostage to the resolutely unvaccinated and blame the Government for making them so.
Many of the vaccinated have tried talking to the recalcitrant and discovered these people don't like what they are told to do and think about many things besides this vaccine. They don't trust what they hear from governments, state agencies, big business or mass media.
Could it happen here that a government could order a lockdown and nobody complied? Let's not find out.