I did not get a chance to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday as it took place right in the middle of our first ever Distributor Conference by remote video-call. However the good news that we are moving to Level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 13th May spread quickly from my family listening to it in the living room. Work and general social distancing will remain largely the same, but once again we will be able to meet up with friends, go to restaurants and shopping malls, and resume the larger part of our normal lives.
This marks a major milestone in New Zealand‘s health and economic recovery. The balance between these two important aspects of society has been the dilemma faced by every country: do we stop the economy in its tracks so we can save the lives of the elderly and the vulnerable; or keep working so that we do not create massive unemployment and poverty? The answer sounds easy when you first think about it (who wouldn’t put lives ahead of money?), but the long term impacts of a deep recession, unemployment and poverty can make life feel like it is not worth living for large parts of the population and can also be deadly in a number of ways.
I do not envy those who had to make this tough decision. It is not possible to stop the spread effectively without some kind of social restrictions, but since the outcome is almost impossible to predict it is hard to know how strict we should be and how long to keep them in place. On balance I believe the government have acted well. Whilst the National party have focused on the economic impact as their main agenda, they have been somewhat forced to take this stance as it is hard to fault the governments response to date. Overall, we are fortunate that the debate in New Zealand has not decended into political point-scoring and we have managed to stay focused on the job in hand. At the end of this saga we will never know if we made the most optimal choices at each stage, but it is highly likely that New Zealand’s response will be held up as a shining example of good pandemic management.
We are now reaping the benefits. The economy is moving again and the severe lockdown measures that have limited our personal freedoms will soon be behind us. You have yourselves to thank for this. No single individual can take responsibility for the bigger success. We all deserve our share of the praise as we have all made sacrifices to get here.