A new release of hundreds of Covid-19 related documents reveals the Government spent millions of dollars on 12,000 pig carcasses during lockdown.
They also reveal officials massively underestimated the cost and demand of the border facilities and that the Government is working to a "best-case scenario" of having population immunity against Covid-19 by the end of 2021.
The Government yesterday released hundreds of new Covid-19 related documents – this was the third time such a tranche of information has been released.
• Covid-19 document release: Lockdown forced the Government to purchase 12,000 pig carcasses
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• Covid 19 coronavirus: Government releases hundreds more documents on pandemic response
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The documents show the behind the scenes thinking of officials and ministers, as well as the decisions that were made in regards to the Government's Covid-19 response.
Previous tranches revealed that one-third of Kiwis felt the lockdown didn't go far enough, meaning that tougher measures could have been rolled out under alert level 4 if necessary.
They also showed the Government shot down recommendations to make liquor stores "essential" and tertiary students were dropping out of university and going onto the unemployment benefit because of the higher payments.
The new information, released yesterday, shows that Cabinet gave the green-light for officials to purchase up to 2000 pig carcasses a week, for six weeks during the lockdown period.
Some $5.8 million was allocated to "cover the purchase, processing, packaging and related transport costs of approximately 2000 pigs per week".
The decision was made to mitigate significant animal welfare concerns, given the over-supply of pork during the lockdown period.
"Due to the nature of intensive pig farming and rapid growth, pigs quickly outgrow their pens," officials said.
"This raises animal welfare concerns under the animal welfare code. Farms do not have capacity for extra pigs, as they breed in a weekly cycle."
Because of this, there were concerns of a mass culling of the animals by farmers which were "not equipped to do so".
"[This] could give rise to animal welfare concerns, particularly concerning the method of slaughter."
The pork was given out to food banks around the country, which were experiencing unprecedented levels of demand.
Other documents revealed officials massively underestimated the cost and demand of the border facilities with the initial budgeted $198 million quickly running out.
In an April 9 Cabinet paper, just before managed isolation became mandatory for all returnees, officials believed they would need to put up 190 people a day – a total of 13,600 – costing a maximum of $195 million for six months.
But six weeks later the border operation had already blown through $48.2 million - about a quarter of the initial budget.
A further $54.7 million was put towards the border operation, but that again ran out.
Advice from June 9 titled "A Sustainable Quarantine and Managed Isolation System" said the estimate of 13,600 Kiwis returning by October would be "well exceeded" given 10,700 had already returned by the end of May.
Also buried within the documents was the revelation that it costs taxpayers an estimated $5700 for 14 days to put up one person in managed isolation in an Auckland facility.
Meanwhile, other documents revealed Cabinet was considering making contact-tracing QR codes a legal requirement for businesses.
Not displaying one would have resulted in either a $4000 fine or six months in jail.
That is still an option on the table for the Government, according to the documents.
But, officials advised they did not think it was appropriate to require entities or individuals to keep records directly at alert level 1.
"This requirement could not be justified by the level of public health risk," the report said.
In another briefing, provided to Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, officials warned they expected "significant underestimates" of the level of domestic violence being reported during the level 4 lockdown.
"After a sharp initial increase, police callouts relating to family violence decreased to at or below levels normally observed," the report said.
It also said there has been no increase in Oranga Tamariki reports of concern.
But officials said this was unlikely a truly accurate picture.
"These are expected to be significant underestimates of the true rates of family harm, owing to the limited opportunities to report in the context of alert levels 3 and 4."