COMMENT: How heavy must Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's shoulder be?
The weight of deciding to lift the Covid-19 alert level 4 restrictions must have been crippling. Yet, Ardern appears to have navigated New Zealand's response to the international pandemic in a cool, calm and pragmatic manner, so far.
Even the arrogant stupidity of Health Minister David Clark's lockdown breaches failed to derail her focus by much.
Ardern's leadership during this crisis has received applause and acclaim globally. She has been singled out by international media including the New York Times, Washington Post and BBC for stellar performance. Yet, such support must be salt in the wounds of those businesses devastated by such restrictions.
Retailers, hospitality and tourism businesses have been financially smashed with a sledgehammer. Some will never recover. Last week, I spoke with butcher Doug Jarvis who said even if New Zealand moves into an alert level 3, the $150,000 damage to his operation was already done.
He is not alone. Rotorua restaurants and tourism providers are also feeling the blow. Such locally-owned small to medium-sized businesses need support now more than ever.
But how do you even begin to make a decision between your country's economy or your nation's health? We're talking about people's lives versus people's livelihoods.
In my view, the initial alert level 4 lockdown on March 25 was a no-brainer. New Zealanders were getting infected. There was community transmission. The country's first Covid-19 death was recorded just four days later. I believe there would have been many more deaths had we delayed the lockdown any further.
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Images of body bags and mass burials from other countries, which arguably did not respond urgently or aggressively enough to the Covid-19 threat, were the only reminders we needed.
We had to act.
While I believe we could have moved swifter at the borders, overall, I feel Ardern has got it right. In my view, by extending the level 4 restrictions to 11.59pm Monday next week - effectively by two working days - she's got it right again. So far.
Anzac Day under level 3 could have been disastrous, yet the voices from concerned businesses appear to have been heard.
Everyone will have a view on this decision but ultimately the only real judge will be time.
The impact from yesterday's decision will be far-reaching and affect every single one of us.
It will only be history that tells us if we got it right or wrong.