Thursday, March 24, 2022

Changes again (again)

The thing about Covid that seems the most obvious is that change is constant. However, no government knows the exact right thing to do, so they (mostly) try their best to act in the best way for their people. So, when when a government changes its policies, there are always those who declare it’s dead wrong, those who say it’s way overdue, and those who kind of shrug their shoulders, whether they mostly agree or mostly disagree (and most of us are probably in the latter group most of the time). The New Zealand government has announced major changes to its policies on Covid. I agree with the changes.

The government has, it said, “simplified the COVID-19 Protection Framework to target restrictions at those activities that reduce transmission the most.” The chart above shows what the revised levels include (also, more details are available on the government’s Covid 19 website).

From 11:59pm on Friday, the limit on indoor gatherings will increase to 200 people, and limits on outdoor gatherings will be abolished entirely. Also, the requirement to scan the QR tracing code before entering a business will end, as will the requirement that business provide the means to scan in or sign in.

At 11:59pm on Monday, April 4, use of the “My Vaccine Pass” will no longer be required, and that will mean that people will no longer need to be vaccinated in order to enter places like bars, restaurants, and cafes, among other places, however, businesses can require them if they want to (I highly doubt that any will, though).

The bigger news is that on April 4 government vaccine mandates for many workers will end, “except for health and disability, aged care, corrections and border workforces.” In practice, this means that teachers, police and Defence Force personnel will no longer need to be vaccinated, since those people are employed by the government. Private businesses will be allowed to continue their vaccine mandates if they have a reason to, though many businesses are keeping their mandates for now.

All of this is happening because Omicron has changed the game, and because after two years of restrictions, people are weary of them and already beginning to ignore the rules. For example, over the past couple weeks, every time I’ve gone somewhere I’ve been the only one scanning the QR code. By relaxing some rules, the government is effectively making it easier—and more likely—that people will keep doing what unequivocally helps: Wearing masks indoors, maintaining physical distancing inside, and gathering outside, rather than inside, whenever possible.

All of this is possible because more than 95% of New Zealanders are fully vaccinated, in addition to the fact it’s estimated that NZ has had 1.7 million actual Covid 19 infections (not merely the 500,000 officially reported). This gives us a strong base of people with resistance to the virus. At the same time, it’s believed that New Zealand has passed the peak of the Omicron wave, and that alone means that the need for restrictions is receding.

However, Covid is far from “over” and new variants will emerge, some of which could be more dangerous. That’s the reason the government is keeping the “traffic light” system in place. The Prime Minister urged everyone, “Don’t remove the (Covid Tracer) app from your phone just yet,” because new variants may require it again.

And that’s where we are: Things are easing considerably over the next ten days or so, and may yet ease more: On April 4, the government will review our traffic light setting and may move the country to Orange, which would be welcome (I think that’s pretty likely to happen).

The thing about Covid that seems the most obvious is that change is constant. I think New Zealand’s impending changes are good ones.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

The COVID fatigue in the US - and we're far less along with the vaccine than you - is very strong.