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Auckland to move to COVID-19 Level 1 at midday Friday; PM defends decision to hold off making announcement

Auckland to move to COVID-19 Level 1 at midday Friday; PM defends decision to hold off making announcement

Auckland will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 at midday on Friday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet made a “preliminary” decision to make the move down alert levels late Thursday afternoon. 

She defended her decision to wait until Friday before confirming and announcing the decision, saying she was still awaiting test results to provide enough assurance before making the call.

Ardern said she wanted to ensure the country had gone 14 days, or a full transmission cycle, without any cases of COVID-19 in the community.

She also wanted to see the results of day 12 tests of close contacts connected to ‘Case M’ in the Papatoetoe cluster. There are some outstanding day 12 tests, but these are for close contacts already in a quarantine facility.

"The Director-General of Health has advised Cabinet he considers the outbreak contained," Ardern said. 

All of New Zealand is now at Level 1.

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52 Comments

Good luck to all the DC workers and hospo outlets frantically trying to organise supply for a weekend at L1 with five hours notice left in the last business day of the week. Suspect there'll be some long hours at Bidvest/Gilmours et al and quite a few late deliveries happening this evening if they can make it happen.

Guess midday Friday is better than 6am Saturday though..

Aye. Much relief. Simple suggestion, stating the bleeding obvious in fact. The faster the vaccines are administered the faster the threat of another lockdown diminishes. Pretty sure the government is aware of this, but the MOH?

Foxglove...according to some on this site there is no hurry. As you said, stating the bleeding obvious that we need to move as fast as possible. We do not need to be health experts to see what is happening and the speed at which it is. Anyone capable of using the net to look at the numbers is in a position to judge. And if there are (valid ) reasons for us being so slow (compared to pretty much the rest of the world) please just keep us informed of them. Being one of the few countries to not have a health system already over loaded due to covid cases and the fact that we have a tiny land mass gives us significant advantages which should lead to NZ getting this done as fast as almost anybody. But so far the reality seems to be.....

We would need to vaccinate roughly 50,000 people per day to be doing it at the same speed as the USA (per capita). I can't see us reaching that level ever, the way things are being done here.

Mrs the Point...I just checked population and size similar (land mass) countries. The closet five (I could find) are Denmark, Singapore, Norway, Ireland and Sweden. They have all been administering the vaccine for 70 to 80 days and have all given between 600 000 and 1 200 000 shots each. Since we have been vaccinating for 20 days now we have a little less than 2 months before we reach 75 days and can compare our own figures.
Of course, unlike us, all these countries are facing serious strains on their healthcare system from covid and were amongst the first countries to start vaccination programmes so were not in a position to collaborate with other countries with extensive roll out experience, (to assist in streamlining procedures) which we of course were. Given these two huge advantages I would expect us to perform the roll out equally as fast at worst. That would mean doing about another 800 000 jabs within the next 2 months. I am a gambler but I am not tempted to bet on that one! Time will tell.

You know what's better than midday Friday? Yesterday. When the decision was made.

The decision wasn't made yesterday, it was made this morning.

Yesterday cabinet met and agreed *in principal* that if no further positive results came through, and other close contacts had returned negative results this morning, that we could move to level 1 at midday today, but the actual decision to do that was not made until this morning.

Basically instead of having a cabinet meeting today, on a Friday, when MPs typically travel back to their electorates for the weekends, the cabinet meeting was held yesterday afternoon/evening, so as to speed up the decision process for this morning after the results of yesterday's testing came through, which is finalised at 9am each morning but usually not presented to the public until 1pm at the press conference / press release.

As Ardern said in the press conference today, if they had said yesterday "we plan to go to level 1 at lunch time" and then this morning they had positive test results and had to turn around and say "sorry, we're going to stay at level 2 for just a few more days now" then everyone would have been far more pissed off and inconvenienced than they are now.

Lanthanide...seems like making the announcement yesterday with the flexibility to alter the plan (which always exists) if the situation changes (ie positive results this morning) was by far the best option in terms of risk reward. It seems a large part of the decision to wait until today was based largely on the Govt wanting to ensure that (on the very small possibility) that they would need to reverse the decision this morning they would have left themselves open to allegations of flip flopping. At the very least they should have said something like this yesterday. "Our experts believe there is about x% chance of new positive cases coming to light before 11am tomorrow. If there are no positive cases in the community (which probabilities show is likely) by 11am tomorrow we will be returning to level one. We regret that we cannot provide complete certainty but this specific information will allow business to start preparing and planning for the coming weekend immediately". Too much too ask?

"Yesterday cabinet met and agreed *in principal* " Good to see we agree it was yesterday then.

You're arguing the toss about whether people might be upset or not about an outcome which was always possible, and would have possible with or without the secret-squirrel around changing alert levels. If the outcome was bad today, people still would have been pissed off either way. There's no good reason the decision and what needed to happen first thing this morning couldn't have been communicated last night - we've had "no new overnight cases" updates from ministers for the last few days through media outlets on morning interviews so it's not like they've refused to talk about it outside of the 1pm press conferences.

(I fully accept I am also arguing the toss on this as well)

Good to see we agree it was yesterday then.

No, we don't agree it was yesterday. The decision was made today, the decision *in principal, pending further information expected overnight* was made yesterday. Those are different things, you can tell they're different by the way I've use different words to describe them.

If the in principal decision hadn't been made yesterday, the decision still would have been made to day, but may have taken longer, and may not have kicked in at 12 pm.

Basically people are getting upset that the government tried to expedite the process, which is an incredibly stupid thing to get upset about. The error, if any, was even telling people yesterday that was something was happening, because it just lead to all of this misplaced carping and moaning.

The people "carping and moaning" are the same businesses who have worn two level 3 lockdowns in the space of 30 days. I'm not on the wrong footing here, I know what is involved in stock and produce ordering lead-times, delivery and staff rostering, they are not something you can throw together with 20 minutes of notice on a Friday. People pointing this out are not "carping and moaning".

You seem extremely reluctant to criticise the government for anything at all, and your attitude towards people who are directly affected by their decisions and poor communications (already acknowledged by the review around the comms used for the most recent outbreak) is pretty unnecessary. You have been happy to chide me for making assertive statements masked as fact, but you're using plain old spin to discredit people who are directly affected by this stuff as 'carping and moaning'. For someone who is quick to lecture others, you should know better.

Like I said, the government was expediting the decision. Choose between 12pm Friday or 11:59pm Friday. Those were the available times.

The government made moves to allow it to be 12pm and didn't announce anything officially until there was a 100% irrevocable decision.

I'm not at all reluctant to criticise the government, when they deserve it. You can see me criticising them recently for how they botched the latest lockdowns by not properly enforcing isolation.

but you're using plain old spin to discredit people who are directly affected by this stuff as 'carping and moaning'

It's not spin. The government could have chosen not to meet until today. And they are carping and moaning, because again the government didn't have to do anything on Thursday at all, but they chose to in order to expedite the decision.

Lanthanide... there can never be a 100% irrevocable decision. If new information comes to hand that warrants changing what they have announced they can always make a new announcement to make changes. Sorry but you are really clutching at straws here. The decision was made yesterday with a proviso. Cabinet all went home because there was no further decision making to be done. There was a simple announcement to be made barring any nasty surprises and there should have been clear communication of what had been agreed to yesterday. If you do not get it I guess you never will. And are you a Govt employee? Why avoid the question? And BTW having the meeting yesterday but not announcing anything till today did not expedite anything!

Lanthanide...let me spell it out nice and simple like. The decision was made yesterday.

It was decided that subject to no new positive tests Auckland would return to level one today.

Now please stop it, You are smarter than this!

GV...Yes, another case of stating the obvious. The decision WAS actually made yesterday. They made the decision to return Auckland to Level one at midday the next day (today) on the condition that there were no new positive tests by 11am. Due to the risk/reward, there is no question this information should have been relayed to the public yesterday. I am really not sure if some people on here are trying to twist things out of bias, ignorance or dare I say it, for lack of a little more grey matter.

Surely they need to perform a consultation, receive and evaluate advice and provide four months notice to affected stakeholders notice before doing anything.

What's your point brock?

Im pretty sure its along the lines of couldnt organise a piss up in a brewery

No, from the tenor, think more likely, something else in a bordello.

Fair enough. They could just say so. But, we don't have widespread covid in this country. Exceedingly easy to criticise isn't it. For instance national and act would have had the borders opened within months, maybe never closed, and we'd be at the level of the US or even brasil. Maybe the criticism might be different in that case.

Foxglove....Jacinda has been doing to us what is done in a bordello for quite some time now.

From what I’ve seen in central Auckland and viaduct this week everyone has pretty much ignored this level 2 nonsense which is pleasing to see.

And if covid had spread would you have been equally pleased no one scanned in?

Then it would be the governments fault of course!

morph... yes, a bit harsh but completely correct as they should have listened to Sam Morgan months ago.

CNN Covid 19 vaccine tracker, 12 March 11:50am NZT.
New Zealand, 19 days, 18 000.
Hong Kong, 13 days, 130 000
Malaysia, 15 days , 195 000
Uruguay, 10 days 147 000
Dominican Republic, 23 days, 547 000
Australia, 17 days, 106 000
Bangladesh, 32 days, 4 013 000

You need to adjust the figures for population if you're going to a comparison

Do you? 20,000 people vaccinated is 20,000 people, no matter what country it is. Unless the definition of what a person is scales with a government's ability to vaccinate, then I don't see how population is relevant?

exactly. what is the actual physical limitation NZ has, to the point that it manages to vaccinate 84,000 less people and take two more days to do it, than Australia?

It's called 'logistics'. It's a whole area of study.

Lanthanide...Logistically NZ has a massive edge over almost any country in the world due to our size and excellent transportation systems. It is a whole area of study that should have been studied by the Govt (at least) 6 months ago. Imagine how much more logistically challenging the roll outs are for countries like Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Rwanda and Senegal who are all embarrassing us with the speed of their roll outs. These problems inevitably rear their ugly head when you have career politicians and public servants controlling things.

Obviously if you have a team of 100,000 people trained to distribute vaccines, and 5,000,000 vaccines on hand, you will be able to vaccinate people more quickly than if you have 1,000 people trained and 100,000 vaccines on hand.

Size of the vaccination workforce and vaccines on hand is relative to the country's total population. Thus, you need to focus on per-capita vaccination rates.

Just like how almost all other population statistics in health, when comparing between countries, are done on per-capita basis.

Historically, statistically, globally that may well be relevant. But given the recent rapid lock downs, and the comments of Mr Hipkins on the radio last evening, the government has not at all reduced its level of fear of an outbreak going nationwide. Now all of us appreciate the country is presently greatly threatened medically and economically. Therefore it is a crisis and should be met with emergency measures however available. To treat your standards & stats another way then. Increase the number of vaccinators beyond what equates statistically to the rest of the world and then the sooner the population will be covered. NZ has a smaller bucket to fill and that’s to our advantage.And how? Well there are plenty of retired, not so old, doctors, nurses, lab staff, et al that could be enlisted and have the ready ability to be trained do the job, nationwide. Hells bells the powers that be, for a country often boasting to punch above its weight, have had more than enough time to be innovative rather than just do what other countries are doing.

I wonder what the results would be if a poll of retired doctors and nurses was conducted to ascertain how many had been officially contacted in relation to the possibility of being involved in the roll out?? Anyone care to take a guess?

The numbers still look woeful even if we do look at per capita based stats especially when many other countries are inundated with community spread, have far less money than us and have huge land masses and third world logistics.

The stats don't get updated as often as they are for other places so you probably aren't comparing apples with apples if that's the route you go down.

The CNN covid 19 vaccine tracker stats are updated at least every hour, usually several times an hour. They are always up to date unless a country is so disorganized they have not input their new stats into the computer.

You're continuing to neglect the role that 'urgency' plays in all of this. Specifically other countries have far more urgency than we do, and quite rightly, too.

Disagree. There is no reason not to go at it at the maximum speed possible. Afterall our government has continually stated the success of our lockdown measures will give birth to the success of our recovery. We are our own nation. The sooner we have all of the population protected, less those unwilling and/or unable, the sooner the border can be opened and those that are, and have been, suffering hardship can have a chance, opportunity to recommence their livelihood, then the better for all of us, our country. To be honest Lth, with all due respect with regard to your knowledge and analytical skills you too often come across as some deeply entrenched bureaucrat, who spouts forth in the interest of the government as your employer rather than the people who fund the government, ie us.

Foxglove...yeah if covid rips through a few rest homes killing our people in the next few months, tell the Kiwis that needlessly lost their Mums and Dads that there was no urgency.
Agree I respect her medical knowledge (undoubtedly a her unless it is Michael Baker) but her thought process and impartiality is seriously questionable.

I am a man and don't have any medical training or expertise.

lh.. OK 2 surprises there. I do give you this. You are almost certainly more knowledgeable on the medical side of this than me. If you have no training or expertise on this hats off for taking the time to do the research. (not sarc).

That is the crux. Our government has been unrelentingly fearful of a nationwide outbreak. That means the risk factor today must be as threatening as it has been since the outset. How ever you look at it, we need to be grateful and applaud the safekeeping that has seen us through this pandemic so far. But why the hell do we then need to sit on our heels and coast along at a pedestrian pace of inoculations when we have the ability to perform with much more rapidity. Is it not better for all and sundry to complete vaccinating sooner than later, and why, with all the time that has been available, has whatever planning that has been done, not got out of first gear. Hells bells thousands of NZr’s livelihood are awaiting the opening of our border to any degree.

I'm not employed by the government and never have been, not any political party, and am not a member of any political party.

I'd rather the government wind up their vaccination programme and get it to work as a well-oiled machine, than try to rush out of the gate and botch it. A matter of a few weeks speed up is not really here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

They have never had, and nor is there any reason to think that they might have had, cause to rush out the gate and botch. In truth the government and their departments have known for as long as this pandemic struck that a vaccine would be forthcoming and with that obvious knowledge, plans could have been made. From ability and function evidenced to date, in terms of recruiting, training and implementation of practice, nothing much had been formulated in this regard, until a month or so into this year. Why the hell not? Last September this government assured its people that NZ was at “the front of the queue.” They did not need to say that but they did and just as well it was a lie because if it had been true, then they would have been found in a totally unprepared state to proceed with any of it.

lh.. another 2 surprises. If I thought it was just a matter of "a few weeks to get up to speed" I would not be overly concerned. If we move at this same slow speed for the rest of the year I believe it poses huge (and mainly unnecessary) risk to our vulnerable people not to mention the massive financial cost. Maybe it is just my cynical nature. I really hope I can be one of the first to congratulate the Govt on a job well done when we see that they have managed to get this done at a level of efficiency that matches the rest of the world. Enjoy the debates and reading your views. Over and out.

If we move at this same slow speed for the rest of the year

Totally correct. And we won't move at this "same slow pace". The goal is for over 50k to be vaccinated by the end of this month, and aiming for 90% (excluding those under 16) by the end of the year. That requires a vaccination rate north of 20k per day to achieve.

Remember that so far everyone has only had 1 dose, so as they expand the vaccination programme to include new people getting their first dose, they also need to go back and give previous cohorts their second dose. That means by the end of this month there will be well more than 50k doses given in total.

You're simply being impatient - it is too soon to judge them for failing to meet these targets.

lh...I probably was not clear enough. I should have said "move at this same slow speed in comparison to other countries over the rest of the year". We have averaged under 1000 shots a day so far so of course even this lot will manage to increase that number. Hopefully you are right and I am just impatient and need to wait and give them a chance to prove they can administer the shots as quickly as most other countries. Again, time will tell and the numbers will not lie. There will always be excuses and reasons to justify poor performance but I personally prefer to take more notice of long term results and achievements. And BTW 50 000 in the first month or only 1600 per day would be an abject failure in my book.

Lanthanide....It is urgent for all countries and needs to be rolled out as quickly as humanly possible everywhere, which I am sure is what most of the NZ public expect. How much community Covid in Australia? With no greater urgency than us and far bigger logistical issues due to land mass, why are they also putting us to shame along with the rest of the world?? And again, are you directly or indirectly employed by the Govt? Just asking.
Incidentally my wife worked at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Bangkok for many years so I have been lucky enough to be able to have in depth dialouge with a number of pretty well-informed people on the medical side of things as well.

Yawn thats great but can we get back to the topic of housing now. Nothing else manages to get hundreds of comments. Maybe Labour can get back to running the country now because thats another 2 weeks wasted on this side show.