Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Next steps

At 11:59pm tonight, the Waikato joins the country—except Auckland—at Alert Level 2. Today was Lockdown Day 91 for Auckland. Tomorrow, the prime minister will announce when Auckland’s borders will open. I think there could me related announcements, too. The important thing right now is that from tomorrow, I can get a haircut.

Last week I talked about what I think will happen with New Zealand’s Covid management in the weeks ahead. My prediction for what would happen today wasn’t exactly a success:
(T)here may not be any changes to the current Alert Levels for either Auckland or the Waikato this coming Monday (November 15), however, both will move to Alert Level 3, Step 3 no later than the following Monday (November 22).
First, there was apparently never going to be a review of Auckland’s Alert Level yesterday (it’ll be on November 22, apparently); I think I read that in a news story that may have made a mistake, but it’s also possible that I just got all confused: Most people in New Zealand are now confused about Alert Levels, after all. Or, it could’ve change. The important thing is that the Waikato is skipping over Level 3, Step 3 and going right to Alert Level 2. However, the reality is that there’s really not a dramatic difference between the two. Even so, it’s not what I thought would happen; I think it’s only the second time that the government has gone farther with Alert Level changes than I expected them to.

At that same press conference yesterday, the prime minister made clear that the entire country will switch to the new “traffic light” system early, which I said was definitely going to happen, and it’s for the same reason I said: It’s the only way to keep the country safe as Aucklanders move around the country—and, let’s be clear and honest about it: Unvaccinated Aucklanders will be spreading the virus around the country. It’s not clear when, precisely, the nationwide change will happen, however, today she said it would be before Auckland’s borders open. I saw one TV reporter say that the decision on when we’ll move to the new system would be announced on November 29, but I don’t know why they said that, and, to me, that just doesn’t make any sense.

If the prime minister is announcing tomorrow what date Auckland’s borders will open, then it doesn’t make sense to wait ten more days before announcing the date the new system starts (for Auckland or the rest of the country) because we’ll already know the date by which the entire country will have to have moved to the new system. So, my prediction is that if the date the borders open is any time in the first full week of December, then we’ll have to move to the new system at least some days earlier (like the first few days of the month) in order to have time to adapt. Or, if the date the borders open is in the second full week of December, then on November 29 the government could announce when the country is moving to the new system. Either way, though, waiting until the 29th to move Auckland to the new system is a bit late. So, I think the announcement about that will be made sometime over the next week (November 17-24), because they now only hold live press conferences on Mondays and Wednesdays, and it’s too important a thing to announce by press release.

In the meantime, it’ll be very nice to have the freedoms of Level 2 again—not just haircuts, but also that we can, say, go to a cafe for lunch, or just to get a coffee, and that we can again gather with other people inside someone’s home (and be allowed to use their loo…). To be honest, though, with Delta spreading quickly though the North Island already, I’d feel much safer about going out in public if we went to the new “traffic light” system NOW. The delay, apparently, is to allow time for the final testing of the online procedure for getting our vaccine certificates. As might be expected, I’m already set-up with the Ministry of Health to complete the process to get my vaccination certificate as soon as they open the process, something I took care of as soon as it became possible to do so (a few weeks ago, I think it was).

Here we are, then, still waiting for details on the timeline of our new path forward—though I have my own opinions in the meantime. And, from tomorrow, the Waikato goes back to Alert Level 2. And haircuts. And coffee. And it’ll make waiting for the next step a little bit easier for us.


Roger Owen Green said...

I mean, it IS confusing.
My general COVID behavior is masking indoors except when I'm seated in restaurants. Not masking outdoors except when there are too many people.
Masking on public transit, where it's required anyway. because otherwise, I'm just too damned confused.

Arthur Schenck said...

I don't go out all that often, even though now I can go more places, but when I'm in a shop I always wear a mask. I don't use public transport (there really isn't any where I live—one bus a few times a day), so I've never faced that. I also haven't been to any large outdoor gatherings, so I don't know what I'd do. Right now, I'd mask up, definitely, but it's likely to be several weeks before going to such an event is even possible, and official advice and/or my own comfort level may change by then.