Folding Like a Wet Paper Bag: New Zealand Surrenders to Omicron
I am angry. Very angry. I have literally just finished listening to Jacinda Ardern’s Great Re-opening speech. Say what you like about the details, this is really the moment that New Zealand, the Western World’s last hold-out against the Virus, decided to surrender. And since it was Ardern doing the announcement, rather than Hipkins, I don’t even get to use the expression ‘Death By Gingernut.’
To clarify, at the end of February, New Zealanders travelling back from Australia get to evade MIQ and self-isolate instead. From mid-March it’s New Zealanders travelling back from anywhere. July-October is where the border comes down, and everyone else can self-isolate. R.I.P. Fortress New Zealand, the saviour of literally thousands of lives.
There is one cold hard fact that this plan ignores.
Self-isolation does not work. And all it takes is one muppet ignoring the rules.
(When asked about enforcing self-isolation? Ardern said there will be a “high level of personal responsibility” involved. Utter madness).
New Zealand currently has done a sterling job at containing our eleven day-old Omicron outbreak. Because MIQ has prevented multiple-seedings, allowing contact-tracing to catch people in time. There are still no cases in my home-city of Dunedin (and haven’t been since May 2020).
Now? What’s the bloody point? The Labour Government’s surrender – allowing infected muppets to bring the plague in (and somehow hoping they’ll comply with self-isolation) – will be tantamount to throwing petrol on a house fire. Let it Rip indeed – without even a Last Hurrah for (still popular) lockdown. And that means hundreds of deaths (have you seen Australia?), a collapsed health system, and a media that would unironically blame Labour for all of that. Lucky for Ardern the next election is late 2023, I suppose, seeing as hitherto the Covid Response was the One Big Thing keeping the Government afloat, and they’ve just put a massive hole in that.
So why is the Government doing this?
Basically, because it has caved to intense pressure from the New Zealand media. The media has been running wall-to-wall sob-stories about people stuck overseas – most recently and famously a pregnant woman stuck in Afghanistan. No mention, of course, that these people fall into one of two categories:
(1) They’ve been overseas for more than two years. In which case, they’ve had copious time and opportunity for return, including periods like last November when MIQ supply exceeded demand.
(2) They’ve left New Zealand at some point in the last two years. In which case, they were fully aware there was an international pandemic on, and as such should have realised that travel meant risk, and potential difficulty in getting back. We’re dealing with entitled muppets, who don’t plan ahead, and then expect the system to bend over backwards to bail them out, never mind that the lives of domestic New Zealanders are at risk here.
(Seriously. I am so utterly furious that the discourse among our (well-heeled) journalists is always about the “humanitarian needs” of those wealthy enough to afford overseas travel, never the needs of the elderly and vulnerable here in the country. High-minded rhetoric about “rights” never seems to take into account the rights of our people to not die of a potentially deadly disease, much less the wider principle of basic bloody solidarity).
If Labour winds up losing the 2023 election, this will have been the pivotal moment. And they’ll have no-one to blame but themselves.