So, here we are almost through the third week of lockdown and it is interesting to see and read the differing views of how and when this phase of the Covid-19 "war" is going to transition to the next.
While there are good reasons to both stay in level 4 and other equally coherent reasons to exit it there is a factor crucial to all decision making which appears to be less than ideal at this time.
Complete, accurate and valid information about the virus and its spread both here and overseas is difficult to find.
You don't have to go far to find information which states that we (humanity) just "don't fully understand this virus" and neither can we possibly understand at this time the effect that mitigation measures are having on economic and social constructs.
The data just isn't there.
And when we are in a position such as this the concern is that massive decisions might come down to guess work or listening to who have the loudest voices.
It is encouraging to hear of lower numbers of Covid cases being reported but these are a function of the number and spread of testing.
They also may not account for people in the community who are asymptomatic and not tested to this point – a move to random testing or more comprehensive testing of slight or developing symptoms is probably a must at this point.
There are also arguments emerging that the harm that is being done to the economy is exponentially higher and longer lasting than the risks associated with the virus.
Again, the absence of complete data (this argument also lives in future context, so it is very dependent on assumptions) makes it hard to quantify the true extent of this problem.
However, the extent of uptake of Government relief programmes and rising toll of unemployment worldwide suggest that the issues here are becoming clearer even by the hour.
One thing is for sure, this issue won't go away any time soon if the timelines on a vaccine are anything to go by.
The situation is also, unfortunately, very fluid and individuals, communities and even countries are going to have to deal with Covid-19 in their own unique ways.
So we all, businesses included, need to plan for as many outcomes as can be predicted.
I think, firstly, we need to plan for next week and the decision around continuing or departing level 4 Covid alert.
My gut feel is that we might end up at Level 3, and I am watching with interest how this will be defined and what we can (and cannot) do in a business and social sense.
What cannot be afforded is the confusion and loopholes which accompanied the early days of level 4 – as controls get loosened the ambiguity will only increase without precise definition by Government.
I am also concerned that we continue to compare ourselves to other countries and their experiences.
New Zealand is geographically, demographically and politically different to all of the countries struggling with Covid – likewise we are different to those who appear to have dealt with the threat better than us.
Assuming that closed borders, mandatory quarantine, increased testing and contact tracing are central to any future plan, any plan on a national basis needs to be specifically written for our own unique circumstances.
It also follows that our economic response also shouldn't be modelled on any other country as our economy, pressure points and risks are also unique.
Locally, we need to have an economic development plan which unapologetically works to support and bring local businesses through this time.
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Indeed it has been encouraging to read Facebook posts committing to supporting local businesses when they are able to open.
It has also been great to see Whanganui & Partners speaking directly to business owners and locals providing their expertise on webinars and social media posts.
No matter the decision by Government about "what next" I am hopeful that their decision making and the emergence from lockdown will be pragmatic and realistic with a firm view on the medium and long-term future.