As Jacinda Ardern laid out decisions about level two, it was a case of two steps forward and one and half steps back.
The Government's handling of Covid-19 has been fraying at the edges lately and her announcement on the shape of alert level 2 took on even more significance.
It held the promise of boosting confidence in Covid management and providing some hope for those starting to feel ground down by virtual house arrest.
The good news was the significant liberalisation planned in each of the major areas of work, hospitality, gatherings, education, sports and probably the most anticipated, domestic travel.
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About the only workplaces that won't be able to resume will be nightclubs and presumably even they will be eligible if they convert themselves to cabarets with seated guests instead of dancing.
The decision-making was well argued by Ardern and the main criterion, including for domestic travel is to be able to do so safely, in which distancing can be maintained.
The bad news was her revelation that the path to level 2 could be a journey in itself and that it may be phased - if director general of health Ashley Bloomfield insists.
And the potential of that happening will cause as much frustration as excitement. That is basically certainty wrapped in uncertainty.
The Cabinet will make a decision on Monday about whether to move to level 2, when to move and in what steps.
Ardern has already raised expectations by setting out the rules.
And her deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has talked up the return to work so strongly that any decision not to go into level 2 would raise questions of Coalition unity.
He has been so vocal on the goal of a transtasman bubble that Ardern appeared somewhat forced to the party when discussing it with Australia's Scott Morrison this week.
Peters has looked ambitious; Ardern has looked prudish.
Internal travel decisions under lockdown have been the latest in a series of Covid-19 issues that have plagued Jacinda Ardern.
She confidently told a press conference on Monday that of the 24 applications by people for an exemption to lockdown rules to visit a dying relative, 18 had been granted.
Her office was later forced to issue a correction to say no exemptions had been granted and that she had been given wrong information by the Ministry of Health. It apologised. Its advice to her was badly worded and was misinterpreted.
The following day, the devastating human tragedies of death under lockdown were laid bare at the Epidemic Response committee.
Ardern's lockdown never looked less kind as devastating stories of separation were shared.
The acquisition, distribution and use of personal protective equipment has been an ongoing issue since the crisis developed in March.
The news last week that three nurses working with Covid patients at Waitakere Hospital had got the virus themselves undermined repeated assurances from the Ministry of Health that it was all under control.
Assurances from Ashley Bloomfield that New Zealand has a gold-standard contact tracing system – a pre-requisite for going into alert level 2 - has not been backed up yet by independent assessments.
The experts are calling for more meaningful data from Bloomfield's Ministry of Health.
The Opposition is calling for better management of legislation after helping to pass a loan scheme mistakenly put into a bill. The Parliamentary Counsel office apologised.
And running alongside for the past few weeks have been debates about the legal underpinning of the lockdown.
Today's pivotal decision comes in a week of untidiness for the Government in Covid-19 management.
Some of the gloss has worn off the Ardern and Ashley show.
It has been the week in which elimination looked tantalisingly close.
But it was also a week in which the cost of that achievement and the way it has been executed has been questioned hard.
The stakes next week will be even higher when the Cabinet meets on Monday to makes its next big decision.