Life is back. Glorious, noisy, crowded, chaotic life. Never has it felt so good as it has this week just to get in the car, drive somewhere in traffic and walk among people going somewhere with a purpose. Never has it been such a pleasure to go into shops, browse and buy something.
With returning life comes optimism too. Whatever happened to optimism? For too long we've been living under this infernal "precautionary principle" that has been elevated to an unquestioned status in public policy. The precautionary principle institutionalises pessimism.
It says, where there is a risk, always assume the worst and avoid it. But people can't live like that. They shouldn't live like that. And they don't live like that. Sooner or later they decide to live with a risk.
Throughout the world, people are now reclaiming their lives from Covid-19. In most places they are doing so with the approval of their governments - but not in all. And even where governments have given the green light, they're doing so despite being advised the virus is still around.
Political leaders have kept their populations confined for as long as they dare, especially in places that have not seen a heavy toll of illness and death. Here it should be noted what Jacinda Ardern is not saying. When asked whether a second wave of infection will send us back into lockdown, she says very carefully, "Nobody wants to see new outbreaks at the level they were", and restates the safety instructions.
Realism says we should expect more outbreaks but optimism believes the Health Ministry now has the contact tracing capacity to chase them down. This week it also finally adopted a cell phone app for people to record where they have been.
But it should not have to rely on voluntary downloads, it should be allowed to make full use of smartphones. We carry these things knowing we have a tracking device in our pockets and most of us don't mind.
Phones enable road planners to monitor the movement of our cars these days, CCTV enables police to find us in most public places if they need to. Why should anyone mind being tracked for public health?
Privacy in physical health has never made much sense to me. I want all medical professionals to have access to my personal records. If my phone can help track a contagious disease, tap it. No need to ask my permission. Better a trivial reduction of privacy than another lockdown.
Why end lockdown tonight? What do we know today we didn't last Monday?
John Roughan: Drivers of the economy, start your engines
In the sunshine and optimism of returning life this week it seemed even possible to find grounds for optimism on the economy. Last week I thought the Budget had been too optimistic in its projections that unemployment would not exceed 10 per cent and the recession would last just a year.
This weekend that outlook seems possible. The shops have been busy. The traffic has been surprisingly heavy, bars and cafeterias have been trading despite a sign-in rigmarole and impractical distancing rules that cannot last. Schools have made the difference. It was not until schools reopened on Monday that level 2 felt like a release.
It suddenly seems possible that this could be the hopeful V-shaped recession with a recovery almost as rapid as the descent.
It is even possible that international tourism might return sooner than anybody is predicting. If that sounds too optimistic look at the response to Auckland International Airport's capital-raising effort reported this week.
When the airport went to its shareholders for more capital this year I thought it was not so much whistling in the wind as inviting a gale of derision. This was a company in charge of the national gateway in a tourism boom, yet it in February it twice had to close its runway for repairs. Now it was asking for additional capital when international air travel looked unlikely to recover for years.
Well, what do I know? Investors have flocked to the airport. Institutions may be wary but the retail component of its offer has been heavily oversubscribed. These people clearly believe aircraft will not be down for long and they are putting their own money at stake, which makes their assessment more credible than dire commentary.
And when you think about it, they are right. People are not going to give up the pleasures they have known for anything. One way or another we will fly again. If a vaccine can be developed, air travel will quickly recover but without a vaccine we will find a way to fly again.
Air New Zealand begins to seem unduly pessimistic, laying off more staff this week. The National Party is more hopeful, proposing a "smart border" that would allow transtasman tourism to resume and foreign students to return.
Optimism can be viral too. Spread it around.