Monday, October 04, 2021

Changes for the times

Today the NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced adjustments to Auckland’s Level 3, with an eye toward gradually easing restrictions before an actual Level change. There have been other changes announced in recent days, all of which are related to Covid. That’s the times we live in.

The changes announced for Auckland involve three stages modifications to Level 3 restrictions in Auckland. From 11:59pm tonight:
People will be able to connect with loved ones OUTDOORS with no more than two households at a time, up to a maximum of 10 people; early childhood education will return for all; and people can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.
The changes only apply to Auckland, and not the parts of the Waikato that are temporarily under Level 3 restrictions. There’s also no indication on when the next Step may be implemented, but they plan on reviewing the situation weekly.

Part of what will determine the easing of restrictions anywhere in New Zealand will be achieving higher vaccination rates. Today, the Government also announced that 2 million Kiwis—48% of the eligible population (people aged 12+)—are now fully vaccinated. Overall, 79% have had at least one jab. The percentage of Aucklanders who have had at least one jab is now higher than 80%.

The Government has also begun point out that, in this current outbreak, only 3% were fully vaccinated. More importantly, NONE of the fully vaccinated people who got Covid were hospitalised, and none died. This also means, of course, that none of the fully vaccinated people ended up in an Intensive Care or High Dependency Unit, either.

What this shows is that vaccination slows the spread of the disease because the virus doesn’t affect the vast majority of vaccinated people, however, if a fully vaccinated person is infected, their disease will be milder and is unlikely to be fatal. All of which strongly suggests that some sort of vaccine passport will be required for events with large crowds, and the Government expects that next week they’ll be able to make an announcements about what that might look like.

Lost because of the Waikato drama yesterday was an announcement from Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins, who revealed that, “Full vaccination will become a requirement for non-New Zealand citizens arriving into the country from 1 November.” This will mean they’ll need to have had “a full course of any of the 22 COVID-19 vaccines approved by a government or approval authority” 14 days or more before their arrival in New Zealand. This won’t apply to NZ citizens, anyone under 17, or people with a valid medical exemption. But before packing one’s bags, it’s important to remember that:
Everybody arriving will still be required to complete 14 days in Managed Isolation and Quarantine, and all travellers except those from exempt locations will still need to have evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours of their first scheduled international flight.
This is related to Air New Zealand ’s announcement yesterday of mandatory vaccines for international travellers, a “no jab, no fly” policy that will begin in February, 2022. They also elaborated a little bit on how it’ll work:
Using Timatic, the IATA Travel Pass will check customers' health information against flight details to ensure they are meeting entry requirements for that destination, and the airline.

The app is based on decentralized technology which means there is no central database holding passenger information. Passengers have complete discretion as to whether they share their data or not and they can delete their data at any time on the app, without fear of this being stored.
The last part is very similar to the way NZ’s Covid-19 Covid Tracer (check-in) App works. More concrete details will be released over time.

On Saturday, (October 1 USA time), the USPS (United States Postal Service) announced in a message on its website that it was suspending processing most international deliveries to 22 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa. It said it was “due to impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other unrelated service disruptions.” They also said that anything already in the system will be returned to the sender.

Covid-19 has definitely disrupted shipping around the world—absolutely it has. However, I tend to suspect that the real problem here is “other unrelated service disruptions”, and while I might have my suspicions on what the real cause of this disruption is, I couldn’t possibly comment further. All I know is that I won’t get a huge stack of Christmas cards from the USA this year! Seriously, though, I hope this doesn’t further delay—or prevent delivery of—those Torx screwdrivers I ordered nearly a month ago, but that haven’t left the USA yet. In fact, nothing’s happened since I wrote about the delay last week.

Right now, the only constant is change. Absolutely everything I’ve talked about here will be changing even more in teh weeks ahead. I guess we’d all better get used to that happening. Change is now (a big) part of the times we live in.


Roger Owen Green said...

My contempt for Louis DeJoy, the USPS head, is... very great.

Arthur Schenck said...

He is without a doubt the absolutely most contemptible head of a federal agency, bar none. Considering how many equally loathsome people the previous regime once had in place, the fact he’s now pretty much unique in contemptibility is a kind of improvement, I suppose.

Related: ”Under DeJoy's plan, mail service to be 'slower than in the 1970s'”