In May last year I wrote an article that talked about the transition from level 3 to level 2 lockdown. As I write this, it is Tuesday, the community is in countdown mode to 11.59pm when the level will change – except of course for Auckland, which remains at the highest level 4.
Back in 2020, level 2 felt distinct to 3 and 4, and I am sure this time will be no different. However, this time level 2 comes with new restrictions or "Delta level 2" as it is being called. So, it definitely won't feel at all like the normality that preceded this rematch with our ever-mutating invisible enemy. Some of the changes I agree with, others are possibly overkill, and some restrictions that possibly could have been useful have not been made at all.
Quite how businesses must enforce mandatory mask wearing, and yet schools are voluntary, doesn't really compute with me. I was challenged by Mrs Bell to think of a time that I have become sick that didn't involve our kids bringing an unwelcome pathogen into the house. It was a difficult question and while we have had to deal with numerous bugs via the school vector of transmission, the last time I contracted anything outside of that was 2019, and 2015 before that.
We are told that Delta is affecting more young people than its Wuhan counterpart, so it would seem logical that mask wearing in school environments would be mandated (particularly when some parents will send their child to school rather than use their leave to care for them). Also, it would be useful to know if teachers and early childhood carers have been prioritised for vaccination; because when you look back at this and previous outbreaks, quite a large number of schools have been affected.
Mandatory scanning? Yes, that is understandable. But how is this going to be effectively enforced? It also relies on the user having their phone in their possession or taking the time to fill out a manual form. It does feel like getting compliance will be a stretch and reading online that the Ministry of Health was not using Bluetooth data during this lockdown is a concern.
Lastly, there are reduced numbers for indoor venues. The 50-people cap will put a strain on hospitality venues and my next visit to the gym will be interesting.
Like last year, I am trying not to use terminology like "new normal" for the reason that I am continuing to hope that the things that were so important about human interaction can be retained. Now that we have been through this cycle before, my eyes are firmly on when level 1 (or "Delta level 1") returns.
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I also want to acknowledge the workers and management of our supermarkets, dairies, and other operators in level 4 and more recently level 3. Yesterday I did some shopping for my uncle and made sure I thanked the person at the checkout for all her hard work and for fronting up during the pandemic. I have heard of some quite obnoxious behaviour at the supermarkets and the terrible events in Auckland last Friday amplify the commitment of these workers even more.
It will be great to see that retailers and service providers can get back into trading and getting revenue streams going. But spare a thought for Auckland as this latest border breach has become an all-too-regular event. And we should also remember that lockdown in Auckland flows through to the rest of us in many ways – particularly if your business trades there or you have projects that require being there and/or working with Aucklanders.
So, onward we go and hopefully, if there are no further slip-ups, Auckland will join the rest of New Zealand in journeying down the levels.