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Going Red

Written By: - Date published: 11:13 am, January 23rd, 2022 - 164 comments
Categories: covid-19 - Tags:

New Zealand is going to Red traffic light system at 11.59pm tonight.

Livestream of the Ardern and Bloomfield announcement,


Nine cases of omicron in the Nelson/Marlborough region, connected to a large group gathering in Auckland and flights out of Auckland. The cases are not connected to the border, therefore it is now assumed we have community transmission of omicron.

Jacinda Ardern is talking about how we can attempt to stamp out local outbreaks.

PM is asking New Zealanders to specifically get boosted and vaccinated. She refers to research that shows boosting makes a difference.

The goal now is to slow the outbreaks and spread. Overseas experience is that not acting early leads to fast and large spread.

The Red level focuses on restricting events and gatherings where spread is much more likely.

Emphasis on

  • mask wearing, indoors, and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.
  • set up a plan now, preparing for potentially having covid or those around you having covid. Find a buddy in your neighbourhood who can help with groceries etc.
  • if you have symptoms, get tested.

The government plan, approach to omicron outbreaks,

Phase 1:

Phase 2:

Phase 3:

Ardern’s explanation of why bother slowing omicron down: we are a team, some of us are particularly vulnerable, we can look after everyone.

Ashley Bloomfield:

First case got tested, and this is what has made

Then details of the flights affected. There are legal requirements around close contacts and people at locations of interest to follow instructions.

Location of Interest list is here.

Contact tracing is being done.

Risk of undetected transmission is high.

The right people need to get tested: those who have been at locations of interest, and those that have symptoms. Other people don’t need to be tested at this stage.

Everyone doing the right things makes a big difference.

Questions from media:

Ardern: Be calm, be kind, get boosted.  Vaccination also protects against serious illness.

Is this NZ accepting covid-19 in the community?

Ardern: NZ has always taken a different approach to other countries.  The goal is to slow omicron down as much as possible. It’s not like every other illness, we need to be cautious.

Question about panic shopping

Ardern: it’s not a lock down, we have other tools to use, we are slowing things down as much as possible.

Question on masks and Rapid Antigen Tests

Ardern: there will be an update on mask tech in the next few days.

Bloomfield: N95 masks need to be fitted properly or they can be less effective than cloth or surgical masks.

Ardern: this phase of the pandemic we will continue to operate the same as delta re testing etc. Gives us the best chance to limit spread. We will use PCR tests.

Later phases, with more cases, we will transition to using tests differently, including RATs.

Question re what to do if infected or a close contact

Bloomfield: Postive result cases: MoH will do an interview, must isolate 14 days

Household contacts will be tested and must isolate 10 days. Separately where possible.

Other close contacts must isolate 10 days, and follow instructions on testing.

People at locations of interest must contact MoH and follow instructions.

Healtline and the Public Health Units from DHBs will be providing the information and guidance.

Ardern: Phase one is still trying to stamp out outbreaks [hence similar to delta], trying to prevent people from coming in contact.

Definition of close contact and what do to will change with later phases.

Question on Māori and Pacifica people and omicron.

Ardern: vaccination makes a difference to severity of illness. Focus on booster campaign.

When we have a larger number of cases in community, systems looking at the more vulnerable people, identify them quickly, get proper medical assessment and getting the care they need. Scaling up from delta system.

Ardern: we will keep looking at the evidence in terms of how spread happens, but won’t be changing the settings at this time.

Question on modelling and case numbers

Ardern: testing our systems for 1,000 cases up to 10,000 cases per day. We won’t necessarily get that high and strategies are to keep them as low as possible.

Bloomfield: they have a range of modellling data and have developed scenarios planning based on that, hence the 3 phases.

Ardern: we can cope with 50,000/day. We don’t know what will happen here given the newness of omicron. But we are better placed than many places.

Question re how long omicron will last.

Ardern: it’s very new in terms of knowing.

Bloomfield: Other countries had very high peaks that turned quite quickly.

Ardern: our slowing down may slow down when peak arrives. This is good to protect the health system and people needing care.


Question re vulnerable people and elderly

Bloomfield: booster stays at 4 months.

Ardern: holidays have had an impact on booster uptake. Expecting to see a surge on boosters now. The capacity is there for that surge.

Schools won’t be closed. Child vaccination status is not linked to mandates.


Ardern: with high case numbers, testing and contact tracing impacts on health care systems. RATs will come into use at that point.

5.5million RATs available this week. PCRs will be used in the meantime. Businesses are already importing their own RATs.  Essential services are being prioritised.

People will still need to do MiQ coming across the border. There will be a phased reopening.

Boosters for under 18s can’t happen yet. Pfizer are getting efficacy and safety data on this. Evidence shows younger people have a good immune response from first two doses.

Arden’s wedding has been cancelled. She expresses sorry and solidarity about other people caught up in this.


Weka: several times Ardern’s comments about and to unvaccinated people have been distinctly different in the past. Kind, considerate, encouraging.


Grant Robertson:

There is absolutely no need to panic buy. Supermarkets will stay open right through.

People can be thoughtful about what to get in case they get sick or need to self isolate.


Post will be updated as details arrive.

164 comments on “Going Red ”

  1. swordfish 1


    Emphasising Boosters … but sticking with the 4 month gap angry

    • higherstandard 1.1

      I'm assuming your parents have had their boosters already ?

      If you are under 65-70 (or over and healthy) this variant isn't something you should worry yourself about to any great degree.

      • weka 1.1.1

        If you are under 65-70 (or over and healthy) this variant isn't something you should worry yourself about to any great degree.

        This is simply not true. I'll be placing some limits on making inaccurate statements like this.

        People under retirement age with chronic illness are still at risk. Even more at risk if unvaccinated. In multiple ways directly and indirectly.

        We don't know yet about long covid and omicron. Stop and think that one through.

        There are people in NZ who were already at risk from respiratory viral infections from before the pandemic. They're not old, they're still at risk.

        • RedLogix

          While I agree there is risk for these individuals and that it matters to them, that is not the same thing as the total public health hazard which is what matters to governments.

          • lprent

            Problem in this case was that HS directed their statement not to a population – they delivered it to an individual. Someone that they know very little about, and certainly not enough to make a medical risk assessment.

        • higherstandard

          Weka I was speaking directly to Swordfish in relation to getting his booster ?

          How is my comment inaccurate ?

          • weka

            If you are under 65-70 (or over and healthy) this variant isn't something you should worry yourself about to any great degree.

            This is inaccurate health advice.

            If you want to say that you are under that age and are not worried and then explain why not, you can do that.

            But if you want to argue against major health advice and the NZ government's pandemic response advice for the public, then you will have to make a clear and evidence-based argument, with quotes, explanations and links.

            This isn't FB, it's a political blog and under a a post about an important public health announcement during a public health emergency. Your casual reckons can go somewhere else.

            • weka

              If that's not clear, imagine if there was volcano exploding in Auckland, and you were here telling people to not worry, against Civil Defence advice. We require robust debate here.

          • lprent

            'You' is a statement to an individual, in this case swordfish. However your statement was a spurious generalisation based on averages.

            That doesn't work for individuals if you haven't any frigging idea about what their health position was. And you don't know that for swordfish, or for me, or for just about anyone writing on this site.

            Even that also seems to be deeply rooted based on past variants, not one that we have about 8 weeks of data on. We simply don't know much about the hospitalisation and mortality rates by demographics.

            Don't be a frigging idiot.

        • Tricledrown

          Those under 65/70 shouldn't worry is pure lies.

          Looking at NZ health stats

          Maori and Pacific Island people are more vulnerable and at a younger age.

          NZ demographics are different to other countries .

          Our approach has been more effective than just about any other country.

          Learning from their approaches.

          Omricon is going to take a community / team work lead effort.

          Individuals need to minimise contact,Mask to the max,Social distance,Scan,test and vaccinate/boost.

          Check out CDC latest figures of omricom vaccine status comparisons from unvaccinated to double jabbed and boosted.

          No question vaccines prevent serious illness and reduce spread.

        • Tricledrown

          Nearly 2/3 rds of covid hospitalisations in NZ have been for under 65 year olds.

        • Foreign waka

          Weka, just to reassure you and give you a real life example. All of my family overseas have and had the omicron variant and all of them reassure me its no big deal.

          If you are generally healthy and not vulnerable, the symptoms are very similar to the flu I have been told by those who actually had the virus and have recovered.

          One in my family is unvaccinated. Their larger circle of friends, colleagues say the same and feel a bit overcontrolled by those who are so far right leaning, panicky or controlling that it is reminiscent on times long past. Meanwhile, the likes of the British MP, Polish and Austrian's politicians with varying approaches, from let the "unwashed, aka unvaxed" eat cake to put them in a dungeon, are seen for what they are. Power grabber's with a wish to have more of it. None have real solutions only restrictions that feeds their need for control. Meanwhile here in paradise no logistics skills are available to have at least basic supply flowing by the looks of supermarket shelves. It would not be surprising that food shortage will become an issue. And believe you me, none of the politicians or those with their restriction ideas will want to be in that position. Because let them eat cake will not wash. Perhaps less panic and more solutions to supply to keep the population at ease is advised.

          I don't want to upset you but this is my honest observation.

          • weka

            it doesn't upset me and I have not problem with people sharing their person opinion. HS got a response telling him not to give inaccurate health advice to people during a pandemic in a way that minimises risk and public health responses.

            If you are generally healthy and not vulnerable, the symptoms are very similar to the flu I have been told by those who actually had the virus and have recovered.

            Ae, well I am someone with health vulnerabilities. Lots of people are. That's the point of the public health response.

            I also talk to friends overseas so have a good sense of who is ok and who isn't. I agree that most people are. But I won't sit by and let the people who aren't be made invisible at a time when we are collectively trying to protect them

          • Shanreagh

            If you are generally healthy and not vulnerable, the symptoms are very similar to the flu I have been told by those who actually had the virus and have recovered.

            This is where shortened forms can get confusing. When you say 'flu' are you meaning a heavy cold?

            If it is 'flu (I dislike this word it is either a cold or it is Influenza) as a short form of Influenza then it is irresponsible to liken Omicron to Influenza in such a casual way. Influenza is a notifiable disease. Influenza kills around 500 people annually in NZ.


            I would be very concerned if its effects and symptoms were like Influenza.

            Please clarify.

            • Foreign waka

              Flu as the common cold if you will, but yo must have noticed no one is dying of flu anymore. Go figure. The symptoms are essentially: headache, sore throat, runny nose.

              What I object to is the constant scaremongering not just to adults who might be able to deal with this but especially children. When you hear them repeating slogans they don't understand – I call this indoctrination. In any language.

              And yes I am one of those vulnerable people – actually twice over if you will due to the conditions.

              The chances being murdered are higher than dying on an infection.

              All Covid:

              CasesDeathsNew Zealand

              New Zealand

              15,550 cases

              52 deads


              Total Offences 2020:

              447,525 (by a population of 5 mil that's a whopping 8.9%)



              • lprent

                False and kind of a stupid comparison.

                Tell me what the death rate in NZ would have been without MIQ?

                Because it isn’t hard to look at the end-result without looking at the efforts and resources to prevent catastrophes from happening at the top of a cliff. The only real comparison is if you’re cleaning up the bodies at the piled at the bottom.

                For that matter tell me what the homicide rate would have been without police / justice / detention.

                Then look at the cumulative cost of providing those services that prevent covid-19 hospitalisations/mortality and thos that are there to prevent or to deter homicides.

                You appear to be just parroting some meaningless script made by idiot who can't think past simpletons slogans.

                • Foreign waka

                  The comparison is a pointer to priorities. Obviously unemotional conversations are not possible and this in fact really part of the psychological undercurrent that is being played out and making aware of that is no simpleton affair.

                  False and stupid, it seems that reasoning, priorities and thinking has been banned too.

                  As for costs : Apart from the 16 Billion dollars, Auckland lockdown 8 billion, and some more billions…. We are printing money like there is no tomorrow and Inflation will be going sky high, imports of goods (all goods) will be low (intentionally or not to balance the books) and despite the wishful thinking that wages have to hold pace – well, they wont as it would become unaffordable for businesses. Tax take will be down so more borrowing for social services and it will only grow.

                  As for vaccinations, all for it and I am fully vaccinated. But at the same time, lets look at all information out there in the field.




                  • weka

                    I don't know what those youtubes are about, because you didn't say.

                    I've reverted them to links rather than embeds.

                    If people want to make an argument, and use a video in support (with explanation and where relevant a time stamp), that's fine, but otherwise it just looks like spam. I'm certainly not going to watch 25m of youtube to try and parse what is being said and if it is relevant, and if it's providing useful and accurate information or analysis.

              • weka

                Flu as the common cold if you will, but yo must have noticed no one is dying of flu anymore. Go figure. The symptoms are essentially: headache, sore throat, runny nose.

                Influenza and the common cold are distinct and different illnesses. Caused by different viruses, have different sets of symptoms, and cause different degrees of problems.

                Covid-19 is a different thing again.

                Here is a description of all three for comparison.


                • Shanreagh

                  Having had Influenza, the real deal, and being very, very ill it 'grinds my gears' as they say when people call the common cold the 'flu. Influenza left me with a lung weakness (poor cough reflex*) that lead to hospitalisation overseas (Portugal) with a case of pneumonia. From the time I got influenza I have had yearly vaccinations.

                  With yet another illness that may cause respiratory problems, Covid, please take the opportunity to get the terminology correct. Weka's Health Navigator definitions have more info.

                  * this means that if I do get a cold that involves a cough I cannot take cough suppressants like some are able to do. My only suppressant is sipping water and other home remedies.

                  Cold (you might have a heavy cold or a head cold etc.)

                  Influenza (notifiable disease)

                  Covid (notifiable disease)

              • Incognito

                Assume [any cold-like] symptoms are Covid until proven otherwise.


                … but yo must have noticed no one is dying of flu anymore. Go figure.

                But it is highly likely that it will come back as soon as the anti-COVID measures are being relaxed and possibly worse if people have become complacent about the ‘common flu’ and immunity levels have dropped, as we have seen with the recent RSV outbreak in NZ.


                • weka

                  fingers crossed that masks, distancing, hygiene, and being able to stay home will survive beyond the pandemic.

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.2

        lowerstandard for non-oldies

        generalising on that basis only works if younger generations are healthy

      • Shanreagh 1.1.3

        Do you still seriously believe that after all we have been through and the Omicron indicators to date.

        Please educate yourself. Please do not pass this rubbish on to anyone who may be influenced by you.

    • Muttonbird 1.2

      I'd say they don't want vaccination centres overwhelmed in the event of cutting the gap to three months. If it stays at four months they know is manageably spread out in the same way second doses were done in September and October.

    • Grey Area 1.3

      Four months and it's to the day.

      I saw a graphic that said if you were vaccinated in September you could get a booster "now".

      So as my my wife and I had our second jab in September we recently rocked on up for our booster to find in our case "now" meant "two weeks from now" when we would be four months from date to date.

      I sent some feedback to say their messaging was confusing but haven't had a reply.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        My booster is booked for 1st Feb. My second shot was 1st October. I took the words "4 months" to mean exactly 4 months.

        The messaging wasn't that confusing. My feedback would have words in it about certain diseases that are known to afflict the elderly… Perhaps whoever read your missive had sympathy for your afflictions?

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    No wedding!


    • Dennis Frank 2.1

      The Womens Weakly editor will be traumatised. crying

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        Who but the utterly hard-hearted, will not feel for Jacinda over this issue.

        • Patricia Bremner

          yes Absolutely Robert.

        • alwyn

          Why? I know of people who have missed having family as guests at a wedding because they couldn't get a slot in the MIQ and didn't have friends in high places to let them jump the queue.

          Besides, to get married in New Zealand all you need, as I understand it, is a licensed celebrant and 2 witnesses. I'm not even sure whether you need a license. I think a statutory declaration will do. Why don't they just do that and get it over with?

          I know one couple who did precisely this. They got so sick of all the arrangements for a big do that was really only for the families that they short-circuited the whole process and got married a couple of weeks earlier at the Registry Office.

          Then J & C could also suggest. "No Presents. Please make instead a donation to the Tongan Relief Fund."

          • Robert Guyton


            Can't really explain it, Alwyn.

            To you.

          • Blade

            Alwyn, spot on. Jacinda needed to take one for the team. Now when she talks about those stuck in MIQ she can talk with true empathy.

            • Muttonbird

              One thing Jacinda is not short on is empathy. She is world renowned for it, in case you have been asleep over the last 3 years*.

              In fact, she has always had empathy for those unable to be with family because of our border settings.

              She reiterates that at the press conference when she says this:

              "As for mine – my wedding will not be going ahead but I just join the many New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic. And to anyone who is caught up in that scenario, I'm so sorry but we are all so resilient and I know we understand we are doing this for one another."

              "I am no different to, (dare) I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts from the pandemic," she said. "The most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one when they are gravely ill – that will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience."


              * The more I read your comments, the more this possibility seems true.

              • Blade

                I'll rephrase.

                I don't doubt Jacinda is empathic. That's her Trademark. But trying to understand a situation and be empathic is one thing. Having lived through a situation or similar and having empathy is another thing.

                With the latter you know and feel in your soul, and not your brain, what another person has gone through. Hence my comment:

                ''Now when she talks about those stuck in MIQ she can talk with true empathy.''

                • weka

                  presumably you can't know her experience then either

                • Muttonbird

                  So, you didn't rephrase at all. You tried to explain your comment, but ended by repeating it, verbatim.

                  • Blade

                    I used the word loosely to save time. However, if you want to nitpick and suggest a new introduction to my post, tell Weka and we can change it.

                    Yes, I did explain what I was implying with my post. It seems to have passed ( wilfully?) over your head. I'm waiting for a reply from weka that may be more encompassing as to how people like you see things.

                    • Gezza

                      trying to understand a situation and be empathic is one thing. Having lived through a situation or similar and having empathy is another thing.

                      With the latter you know and feel in your soul, and not your brain, what another person has gone through. Hence my comment:

                      ”Now when she talks about those stuck in MIQ she can talk with true empathy.”

                      The first two points you make are reasonably easy to grasp. If you’ve experienced a given situation you’re more likely to know what the same situation feels like for other people. So Ardern will now know what it feels like where other brides have had to postpone their weddings due to lockdowns & gathering-size restrictions.

                      But Ardern having to postpone her wedding isn’t remotely the same thing as her being stuck in MIQ, so I don’t get that connection. Just a bad or puzzling analogy. Not really worth arguing further over.

                • mpledger

                  But she hasn't been stuck in MIQ? So, I don't see your point.

                  And besides that, you don't know what other impacts there have been on her that have remained unmentioned.

                  You just seem to be relishing in her misfortune.

                  • alwyn

                    I hope she, or someone, can find just a little empathy for this little girl in Papua New Guinea who appears to require urgent medical treatment that would be available here but not in PNG.

                    Still, how does the possibility of losing the use of an arm compare with delaying a wedding?


                    Has anyone seen any later news or is it still where it was last Thursday morning?

                    • Patricia Bremner

                      Alwyn, you will be pleased to know she is on a plane as I write.

                    • Gezza

                      Your link above, alwyn, is now the active link to a new article titled: Kiwi 9-year-old flying home for urgent surgery on shattered arm

                    • alwyn

                      To Patricia and Gezza.

                      Thank you for the comment. Wonderful. The system can produce good outcomes. I'm just surprised I didn't see the story when I was looking at the Stuff site.

                  • Blade

                    ''But she hasn't been stuck in MIQ? So, I don't see your point.''

                    The point is loss. disruption. anger? stress, pressure. My post said:

                    ''Having lived through a situation or similar and having empathy is another thing.''

                    ''And besides that, you don't know what other impacts there have been on her that have remained unmentioned.'

                    What can I say?

                    ''You just seem to be relishing in her misfortune.''

                    I'm not a vindictive Lefty. Jacinda's private life is her own business.

                    • Blade

                      Oh, forgot this mpledger. I took my lead from alwyn and used a little extrapolation too, as waiting on MIQ may be worse than being in MIQ. Being in MIQ means there is a end in sight to your wait (?):

                      ''Why? I know of people who have missed having family as guests at a wedding because they couldn't get a slot in the MIQ and didn't have friends in high places to let them jump the queue.''

                      If Jacinda loses loved ones in the interim before her new wedding date, of course that will add another dimension to her understanding.

                    • Muttonbird

                      I took my lead from alwyn…

                      Ah, I see the problem now.

                    • Blade

                      Yeah. no you don't. The problem is your comments are as porous as a sheet of rebar.

                  • Blade

                    You are my type of man, Gypsy. You know how to sniff out bullshite and call it.indecision

                  • Shanreagh

                    Has the PM got a role in these approvals or declines? I thought there was a special and clear process with clear conditions that have to be met. Obviously some will be approved and some will be declined.

                    If it was a decision made after a wholly arbitrary process then that would be a different story.

                    Please advise the PMs actual role in these decisions. I thought they were made either by the Minister or Govt officials. I thought there was a rehearing right?

                    Otherwise blaming the PM sounds a bit like the silly complaints about empty shelves in supermarkets being blamed on the PM in the early days of the pandemic. I used to counter those by saying after a full day working on govt matters she might be a bit tired to swing herself up into the cab of a truck to do the Auckland south overnight delivery run. And we should not expect her to.

                    The govt has set out a decision making process, guess what, to make decisions. If people have a problem it is with the process……this is not a difficult concept.

                    • Gypsy

                      "Has the PM got a role in these approvals or declines? "
                      She's running the government that is making the rules FFS.

                    • Gypsy

                      "You have a strange grasp of how Govts and govt depts function"
                      No, I know how they function. The policy around MIQ is set directly the government. They could easily address the cruelties occurring by prioritising hardship cases. But then the management of MIQ has been shoddy for a long time, so perhaps the government just doesn't trust it's officials anymore.

                  • weka

                    Where's the empathy here?

                    Ardern isn't even mentioned in that piece, so what makes you think she is or isn't personally empathetic to the situation?

                    As Shanreagh points out, Ardern doesn't run everything and isn't involved in every decision. This political argument is daft. If you want to have a go at someone try the Minister responsible for the department that's making the decisions.

                    But bear in mind the issues here. The couple weren't vaccinated.

                    If you want to live with your kids during a pandemic in a remote area of a country without NZ's standard of pediatric care then there is a risk that shit will go wrong.

                    The girl broke her arm on Tues. The parents applied for the MiQ emergency exemption at midday Thurs.

                    They arrived in Auckland later on Sunday night. The article doesn't explain that delay. Flights? MiQ? Border control?

                    • Gypsy

                      The PM is head of the government. The government is making the rules. That makes her ultimately culpable.

                    • weka

                      The PM is head of the government. The government is making the rules. That makes her ultimately culpable.

                      That's not how government works. It's clear that the girl with the broken arm had delayed treatment for a range of reasons. The most obvious ones are that her parents hadn't bothered to get vaccinated yet, and they lived in a remote area in a foreign country.

                      If there are additional reasons that are to do with how MiQ is being managed, then I expect that this will be looked at, but why was that not made clear in the article?

                      Or are you arguing that we should open the borders?

                    • Gypsy

                      "That's not how government works. "
                      Yes it is. Governments set policy and they direct how it should be implemented.

                      "Or are you arguing that we should open the borders?"
                      No. I'm arguing we should be showing some empathy towards genuine hardship, not DJ's,

                    • weka

                      yes, governments do, but the PM doesn't oversea all those individual decisions. She has Ministers, and the departments have a whole range of people to take responsibility.

                      I agree with you about MiQ generally but am still not clear why the girl with the broken arm took so long to get here.

                    • Gypsy

                      "but the PM doesn't oversea all those individual decisions."
                      Not the decisions, but the policy that informs those decisions is certainly something she can influence and should take responsibility for.

                      The girl needing the arm operation is just one of many examples of what I consider a rather perverted system.

                      "Brad Stephenson’s father only has one or two days to live. But Stephenson has been denied an exemption to leave MIQ early to say a final farewell despite being double vaccinated and having tested negative for Covid-19. Stephenson has been fully vaccinated since June, and has taken four PCR tests in the last nine days. But his application to leave the Crowne Plaza facility early has been declined on the grounds he poses too much of a health risk to New Zealand. Instead, a Managed Isolation and Quarantine staff member has suggested he ask to be let out three hours early when he leaves quarantine in a week’s time."

                      In the end, Brad (who had 5 negative tests and was double vaxxed) was released on day 13 to see his dad, but only for 2 hours. And he was shown the matrix for risk assessment, and it hadn't been updated since July 2020. This was in October 2021, so they hadn't updated that criteria in 15 months!!

                      I apologise for my anger, but this is incompetent or cruel or both.

                    • weka

                      no problem with anger.

                      I would say it's incompetence rather than intentional cruelty. And also burnout and the consequence of having to work in difficult conditions for so long.

                      But also, I think many people don't realise that this isn't new, it's just more in our faces because of what is at risk. Government systems are often clunky and can be unfair. Some of that is institutionalised (think WINZ and punitive policies and how that might affect someone getting a funeral or to see a loved one before they die), and some of it is just the grind down from neoliberalism for so long.

                      I don't know if that Stephenson decision was the MoH or army or? But the MoH has a specific culture, and it's often nurse knows best. Disabled people have long had problems around freedom and sovereignty. You can look at the patient rights movement in NZ for other examples of how people are dehumanised and treated as cogs in the system. Most people I come across aren't cruel, they're just working in a shitty system and some of them have particular ideas about rules and how things should be done. Needless to say, there are also a lot of kind and compassionate people in those systems too.

                      This isn't to excuse what is happening. But I'm not sure we can lay all of this at the door of the people currently in charge. Some of it for sure. Some of it is embedded in history and that will take time to change. Some of it is just the limitations of the pandemic.

                  • Tricledrown

                    Gypsy this is a war we are fighting individuals have to make sacrifices.

                    Those who think they are more important than the health system or us having an uncontrollable outbreak putting more business's into bankruptcy.

                    Overloading our health system overloading the morgue.Killing 1,000's of NZers unnecessarily .

                    Real empathy is preventing widespread disaster for 5 million .

                    Gypsy you are undermining the initiative that most NZers are backing.

                    • Gypsy

                      "Real empathy is preventing widespread disaster for 5 million ."
                      We can protect the 5 million and show some empathy for those is genuine need. If we can do it for DJ's we can do it for the terminally ill.

                  • Muttonbird

                    Un-vaccinated missionaries, eh?

                    I feel for the child but damn, missionary work in deepest PNG during a 100 year pandemic is high risk stuff.

                • Patricia Bremner

                  Oh I think she knows better than both of you, as she has had to put her personal life aside before. You sound almost gleeful, and that reflects poorly on you. Your use of vindictive was a freudian slip. imo

                  • Gypsy

                    I doubt the PM is vindictive. Just tone deaf.

                    • Shanreagh

                      You have a strange grasp of how Govts and govt depts function and may fall into the category of the people who were blaming the PM for empty shelves and rationed toilet paper.

                      Govts have Ministers and govt depts and it is like clanging on an empty vessel to blame the PM for issues that she has no official role in and if she had intervened or inserted herself into the process would place the process in jeopardy from a legal challenge.

                      Is she similarly responsible for the mud farming down south etc etc.

                      It is difficult to have a sensible discussion when the knowledge of how legal processes work within Govt is so lacking.

                    • Shanreagh

                      Mmmmmm. I'm sure you are right. NOT.

            • Shanreagh

              Surely those in MIQ have chosen to come to NZ and know what they have to do to enter. Why do we need to feel empathy? It is a decision that was freely taken.

              There are special hardship grounds available.

              Is there a special reason we, from the PM down, are to feel empathy? I just feel ho hum, they've chosen to come back and those are the rules.

              If they are waiting for special hardship decisions that can be hard.

              • Gypsy

                The examples I gave are people who are either terminally ill or returning to see people who are terminally ill. The current system is cruel and unreasonable and reflects very badly on us as a nation.

                • weka

                  what do you want to change about that?

                  • Gypsy
                    1. Generate more MIQ capacity.

                    2. Release more MIQ capacity. MIQ capacity has been deliberately underutilised on the pretext of setting aside capacity for a future uptick in local isolation requirements.

                    3. Prioritise hardship applications., with the remainder (holiday makers and DJ's etc) entering a ballot for remaining places.

                    Remember early in 2021 the PM promised kiwi citizens would not be left in the lurch. Like so many other aspects of the response to covid, the government has sat on it's arse for too long.

                    • weka

                      that sounds reasonable to me, apart from the MiQ rooms being kept for local isolation. Obviously that's going to be needed now.

                      I would add put returnees and people with covid in separate buildings, but I don't know how logistically difficult that would be.

                      My guess is that they haven't sorted this out because they've been thinking the borders will open soon. Personally I think we should assume there will be a need for border control due to active pandemic for the rest of 2022, and the MiQ system should be fixed accordingly.

                      Haven't read the thing Hipkins said this week about a staged opening though.

                    • McFlock

                      More MIQ capacity means more possible breaches.

                      This might be moot if omicron is fully out and we don't get lucky, but it's still a bit soon to bang the nails in the coffin of "stamp it out" just yet. Although that's a big "if", we've come out lucky before.

                • Shanreagh

                  We don't know enough and do not need to about the situation.

                  But there are processes and requirements and these may not have been met. The key to making these applications is read the requirements very carefully and then address every single point in a calm and rational way.

                  I have seen applications for exceptions from a process in days gone by that fail to meet the requirements for explicit departures relying on and being ultra ultra forceful (ie rude), with irrelevancies. missing data, etc etc. As a decision maker you tried and tried (or your staff did) to get the application into some sort of state to be able to consider it, sometimes it was like getting blood from a stone. Decision makers did not see the cases before they were complete ie had all the info or all the info that was going to come forward, see the blood from stone comment.

                  As a decision maker, too you have to be aware of possible legal challenges and setting an unfortunate precedents while making sure the application has all the info needed to make a decision. Once you get it to that stage ie all the info then you set about considering the case put forward. While some would fly through a significant number would fail because they did not address the need to bring the application within the bounds of an act or regulation.

                  Some immigration decision makers are tougher than we were ……..if info not provided first up then automatic decline as not able to consider.

                  I sense by its nature that an application to come in without going through MIQ would be a tough hurdle to get over, as it should be, the consequences of being kind and spreading Covid are too great.

  3. alwyn 3

    You say "several times Ardern’s comments about and to unvaccinated people have been distinctly different in the past. Kind, considerate, encouraging."

    Is she being kind now and not in the past or kind in the past and tough now?

    And did she really say that there was "a large group gathering in Auckland" or did she tell it as it was and say it was a wedding?

    • weka 3.1

      There's link in the post, go look it up for yourself. The post is notes, not a transcript.

      • alwyn 3.1.1

        Yes. I saw that and also that it is nearly 80 minutes long. I really don't want to spend that long on the matter.

  4. arkie 4

    A bit of levity in this situation; turns out NZ is now in the Footloose universe:


  5. Treetop 5

    I think it was in the favour of NZ to have gone late with vaccination for Delta as better efficacy. Going early for vaccination booster is required for Omicron.

    Due to lower infection rates of other Covid strains in NZ I am not sure how effective a booster will be compared to countries where there have been high case numbers.

    Undetected transmission is a big problem, all that can be done is testing, isolating, mask wearing, social distancing, stocking up if a person has the means to do so and vaccination.

  6. Ad 6

    Did my dad's 80th birthday gathering of the clan yesterday.

    A couple of absences since we were a firm no-vax-no-entry since they're all hardy Far North folk.

    Otherwise an excellent event. Tears, smiles, drunk aunties, sunburn.

    And here I give thanks to the government in particular Prime Minister Ardern for outstanding management.

    • Patricia Bremner 6.1

      Thanks for that Ad We had a friend's 80th yesterday, complete with the pipes. We all woke for it and also feel fortunate in that. Many Happy Returns to your Dad. As an old friend says, "Isn't it great!! We all woke up this morning".

      Yes, and thanks Jacinda and the team.

    • fender 6.2

      Thank goodness you're back. Last week someone posing as your good self described Ardern and her Govt. as: "self-obsessed, tithe-enforcing, autocratic evangelist"

      Glad to hear your family gathering went so well.

      • Anne 6.2.1

        This the Ad I like. yes

        • fender

          Yes this is the Ad I'm used to. Hope he can find out who it is that periodically makes those weird comments in his name. 🙂

          • weka

            lol, I sometimes think someone else is posting too. All over the place at times.

          • Muttonbird

            I made this claim a few years ago and was smacked down pretty heavily. I am glad others recognise wild swings in Ad's posting some days.

            • fender

              I'm sorry there's an unfairness there, but it's out of my control. Maybe there's a change in tolerance or something. I'm pleased you didn't get any grief for your very brave "I'll bite" the other day. That took guts and earned you kudos from my perspective.

  7. EE 7

    I managed to purchase some RATs, before the rush.
    But I can't figure out how to train them to smell and detect the covid virus…

    • Shanreagh 7.1

      I think you've got the wrong kind. The RATs differ from Rats in these ways

      1 RATs have a square/rectangular boxy shape, specially bred this way to hold all the special gear.

      2 RATs have almost non existent legs and paws. These have been bred out of them so they can lie flat in drawers

      3 RATs noses are more bulbous with almost tab like look. This is to grip the RAT with. Normally rats would be infuriated if you picked them up by the nose but RATs have had the fury and pointy noses bred out of them.

      4 RATs have no tail.

      5 RATs come in a snug white protective container. This stops them escaping until they are used. It may be superfluous anyway as RATs are very docile compared with rats. Rats containers often have little bars on them and they will escape very quickly if able

      6 RATs have no teeth or whiskers

      7 Cats are not interested in RATs. RATs must have had the delicious-to-cats smell bred from them. The unusual rectangular/square shape of RATs is not attractive even to for cats to bat around. A quick bat off the table is probably all a cat may want to do with a RAT. Be careful though using this batting business as a sole method of ID. Cats can knock glasses of water, apples, pencils off a table and positive RAT ID is needed as these other objects should not be confused with RATs.

      These instructions can also be used if you have a dog and want to make sure it knows the difference between a RAT and a rat.

      You will need the extra special dog/RATs/rats instructions if your dog is a Fox terrier, dachshund or corgi. This is because of their breeding and uses of old as rat catchers.

      This is filed under #I smell a rat or is it a RAT?

      • dv 7.1.1

        Nice Shan

        “You've got too much time on your hands!!”

      • Shanreagh 7.1.2

        But wait there's more!

        If by some chance you have worked out, by reading the above instructions that you have bought a rat and not a RAT for Covid 'catching' all is not lost.

        Rats are very clever and can be trained easily. Training normally starts to test Pavlovian reflexes and rats can whizz through mazes, ring bells and do other tricks to tell you that they need a feed.

        I think you could train a rat to detect covid. It may take some time. Not sure but you may have to start a rat breeding problem so as to bred out rat 'players' ie those who just want to mess around and have fun, and keep those who are single minded in pursuit.

        Now how do you feel about rat babies, in quantity. A major point against doing this is that you should have started a couple of years ago and now be at the stage of training multiple rats to detect Alpha, Delta and Omicron as a start and be working on how many smells a rat can detect. You might have missed the boat, and the money but Red traffic light time is upon us………

        In memory of my wonderful university rat, Jerome K Jerome, who was more on the player side, once he had learned all we had to teach him, of being a rat.

  8. Bill 9

    +ve test = must isolate 14 days and close contacts must isolate 10 days

    There go the hospitals.

    • pat 9.1

      At least….tried visiting a GP lately?

      • Blade 9.1.1

        Yep, this morning. Made it through Covid screening…then had to redo paper work and wait another 10 minutes because new staff were being trained. The security staff on duty consisted of a man and…a boy.

        • pat


        • Gezza

          Man you were lucky getting to see a GP on a Sunday!

          Ours at the local medical centre are usually booked up for a week or more, prefer to do a telephone consultation if at all possible, & on weekends their IVR system tells you to go to the local Accident & Emergency Department.

          • Blade

            My medical centre is closed on the weekends. That has just happened recently. I went to a new medical centre that's opened up. They take walk-in patients( although I bet that's about to change).

            My usual medical centre will do a telephone consultation if the doctor deems it necessary. That will change too, I'm betting.

            The consultation cost me $55. You have to pay on the spot before seeing the doctor. They prefer a c/c, but will accept cash if you have the right change. Otherwise, there's the door…get out.

            A&E in my area is a nightmare. Waiting up to 8 hours to be seen is nearly the norm. Its not uncommon to go in at one in the morning and see the waiting room full of people trying to sleep.

  9. tsmithfield 10

    I think Luxon has a point.

    We have had months to get prepared for this. We should be stocked with hundreds of millions of RATs right now. And they should be distributed and ready to go.

    Only a few million of them in the country right now, and the others to dribble in over six months I think, if we are lucky.

    By the time we have enough, Omicron will have come and gone.

    • Patricia Bremner 10.1

      Luxon’s point is on his head …They are manufacturing them flat tap and coping with covid as well. Ours will arrive, in batches up to June … Feb Mar Apr May.

    • fender 10.2

      Yeah, there's no excuses, no other country in the world wants them. There are trillions of them sitting in warehouses without buyers!


      • tsmithfield 10.2.1

        Exactly. The best time to prepare for a fire isn't when the whole city is burning.

        RAT tests have been around for a long time. It doesn't take a genius to understand that it is highly likely that these types of bugs become more contagious and evasive of vaccines over time.

        So we should have been ready. If so, we could test at every opportunity, and isolate people when it is identified that they are sick.

        What the government has announced is essentially "let it rip" but with virtue signalling.

        • Graeme

          Luxon is from the 'just in time' school of management. They view an item arriving a week before it's needed as just as bad as it arriving a day late.

          If our government had had a warehouse full of RATs arrive in early December he would have been crowing that 'the Government is wasting money'

          • tsmithfield

            So, you haven't actually answered any of the points I made.

            We should have been ready. I should be able to test myself right now before I head to work sick and spread Omicron around if I am sick. Schools should be able to test kids now before they come into school sick and spread the bug around.

            The government's strategy announced yesterday is essentially "let it rip".

            Going to red isn't going to slow the spread much. The next part of the plan announced was to protect the vulnerable as much as possible. So, we have accepted that Omicron is here, and the government is not going to do a lot to effectively slow it down.

            They did give some token reference to RAT tests by saying they would be gradually integrated into our testing regime. But, most countries have absolute turmoil for a month or two before Omicron peaks and subsides. So, Omicron will probably be done and dusted well before RAT tests are being used effectively.

            • pat

              "So, Omicron will probably be done and dusted well before RAT tests are being used effectively."

              In all probability….however its worth considering the resources (which we lack) that RATs will require to enable distribution, application and follow up testing they would engender…..all while knowing it wont restrict the transmission of Omicron.

              An overwhelmed system….and not just health.

            • Muttonbird

              I'm going to guess these would retail for $15 a pop here so for a family of five to self test each day would cost $375 for the working/school week.

              Self RAT testing would only be available to the highly privileged.

              And they don't even work.

              • "And they don't even work"

                Complete fallacy. They are not as accurate as PCR tests, but their accuracy has improved a lot. They are very good at picking up Covid when people are symptomatic, but not so good when the viral load is very low, and people aren't likely to be infectious:


                The cost is a political decision. In some countries they are virtually given away.

                • Craig H

                  RATs don't seem to be as accurate at detecting Omicron as they were at detecting previous variants: https://medicalrepublic.com.au/rats-failing-to-catch-omicron-early/60741

                  A preprint study released on MedRxiv involved 30 people who were undergoing work-mandated daily testing, and who had both rapid antigen testing and a positive PCR result from specimens collected at the same time.

                  Twenty-nine of these were identified as Omicron. The study found that in the first two days after the positive PCR result, all the rapid antigen tests were negative, even though 28 people had viral loads that would have meant they were infectious.

                  All the cohort developed symptoms within two days, but it took a median of three days from the first positive PCR result for the first positive rapid antigen result. The study also found that four cases transmitted the virus despite having a false-negative rapid antigen result.

    • Ed1 10.3

      More tests may give a better measurement of how quickly people are getting infected – but would it have made any the number of infections lower if we had followed his policy of opening up borders before Christmas? Currently we are not overwhelmed in getting PCR tests processed; that is when 3 days of a RAT may help (it seems they are as reliable as a PCR test if three RATs are used on consecutive days. Certainly selling RATs does not seem to have helped NSW and Victoria with their infection rates . . .

    • Luxon is going on about RAT's but in Stuff today "Rapid tests have proven less successful so far with Omicron, returning too many false negative results while people are infectious. They will not be as useful for keeping infectious people out of workplaces and public spaces."


      • weka 10.4.1

        that's not Luxon.

      • mac1 10.4.2

        No, not Luxon. It was an opinion piece by one Dr Eric Crampton, formerly a senior lecturer at Canty Uni. He is now "Chief Economist" at the NZ Initiative. He has a blog and is now taking an interest in Covid matters.

        First, it must be noted he has a doctorate, but presumably not in medicine. His bio did not say.

        He works for the NZ Initiative, a right-wing business advocacy organisation.

        I say this because I believe that qualifications elated to the subject matter, and political bias, are to be considered when evaluating opinion pieces.

        I read his article, and nowhere does he mention the word 'shambles' that is highlighted in the headline, so presumably that is a sub-editor's intervention, and does not in my view aid anybody's credibility.

        His opinion piece ranges from a survey of gloom and doom from an issue of the Herald where he summarises various journalists' contributions.

        The problem with that is we have a 'reckon' from someone who is taking an interest in Covid summarising the opinions of others whose expertise and actual findings are not evident. Instead, they are published in a newspaper for whom disaster journalism is a staple, as instanced by the very choice of words chosen by the headline writer for Dr Crampton's article.

        His opinion piece then goes on to mention shortfalls as he sees them. He mentions that the Government last year resolved to look into provision in schools of filtration units. He then says, "No progress has been reported."

        Now, is that enough for a researcher to say, "No progress has been reported"? There is no evidence of any real enquiry into an issue where he is quite happy to take a critical stance. How far did his research go? Who did he consult, what papers, what research, what investigations? (I do admit it's difficult to find something that doesn't exist, but there is no claim that he has researched it, just saying "No progress has been reported".

        He then ends his article way out of his line of expertise as an economist by advocating that school children might develop their own testing and construct their own filtration units. His final words are filled with possibilities, "can', "may", "though", "likely", "could", 'might".

        I am dubious about Dr Crampton's opinion piece. After saying that and having searched for 'Crampton" in the Standard's search function, I note he has not been respected for his offerings in the past.

        Am I wrong in doubting the quality of many prognostications in the covid debate?? Am I wrong in this instance? Is there a minimum standard of expertise, knowledge, freedom from bias when it comes to who we listen to, and who we allow to 'inform' our own knowledge and opinions?

        • Bearded Git

          mac1…..as I said to Weka above you have to read my post. I am contrasting Luxon's position on RATs with Crampton's.

          You have a good point about Crampton’s qualifications.

  10. DS 11

    If the Government hadn't caved to the media and reduced MIQ stays from 14 days to 10, this would not have happened. Self-isolation straight-out does not work, and it is f***ing mental that Hipkins still sounds keen on it.

    Meanwhile, screwing with the border would be tantamount to pouring oil on a fire.

  11. Blazer 12


  12. Ad 13

    For those who are both paranoid about touching things in supermarkets, and want groceries delivered to your door, and are in the Auckland region, I'd recommend:

    – Ooby. Eye-clenchingly expensive but exceptional quality

    – Harvest To Home. Don't guarantee everything organic, but it's all locally sourced

    Won't replace your entire shopping run but can decrease it down to once a month: other services can near-fully replace.

    • RedLogix 13.1

      You are wasting your time here.

    • Robert Guyton 13.2

      In Southland, the Longwood Loop 🙂

    • weka 13.3


      I'm writing post about relocalising food, generally because of climate but tying into the pandemic and general food resiliency. I don't know Harvest to Home, but Ooby is one of the interesting emerging new models of food supply. Will be interesting to see how they adapt around omicron.

      • Robert Guyton 13.3.1

        I've just written and submitted an OP for the local rag on climate change and the value of local buying and food production – if they print it tomorrow or the next day, I can submit it here as a comment, if that pleases you, Your Majesty 🙂

  13. Stepping back from the political side of the argument, I think one of the best preventive factors will be the behaviour of organisations independently from the government.

    This is because most organisations are going to be very worried about losing functional capability due to mass sickness. Therefore, they will be taking steps to spread the risk.

    For instance, in my company we have just mandated that all staff who can work from home should do that, and we will just be keeping a skeleton crew at our warehouse.

    Some of our suppliers and customers have already indicated they are doing the same.

    Also, we have just upgraded our masks to ensure they provide the best protection we can get.

    • McFlock 14.1

      Yep, I'll agree with that.

      The only change for a couple organisations I'm involved with is that one of them requires a tad more distancing. And it was a measure we knew might happen, and we've done before.

      Everything else is largely the same, but with "and we really mean it" tacked on to the usual instructions (mask, pass, check-in, distancing, etc). Where working from home was an option one was reminded of, it's now encouraged. Regular door-handle and table cleans with disinfectant (multiple times a day). Less loitering in halls and tea rooms. Had a zoom meeting with 4 people in different offices, and only the fifth one was in a different building, lol

    • weka 14.2

      Nice one.

    • Shanreagh 14.3

      One workplace I know of have divided themselves into two teams with one team all working from home for 3 weeks while the other team all works in the offices. At the end of 3 weeks they swap over.

  14. tsmithfield 15

    I heard Bill O'Reilly on Newstalk ZB last night (the 17.00 recording starting at approx 7.10).

    He was saying pretty much what I have. That the amount of RAT tests in the country at the moment would be gone in several days if used as intended. That tens of millions are needed. That business groups have been harassing the government for months to import their own. That only four tests are approved in NZ compared to 65 in Australia, which limits options considerably and makes it much harder to get delivery. That the MOH has more in the pipeline to be approved at the moment. However, now we are at the back of the queue instead of the front. And how that saliva testing is even better for Omicron than RAT testing. He talked about the need for a strategic plan for testing involving the various tests available.

    All too late for this Omicron outbreak I think. We need to buckle in for a month or two of turmoil because I doubt much in the way of testing will be available. The PCR testing regime will quickly be overwhelmed as in Australia with virtually nothing as a substitute.


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  • A health system that takes care of Māori
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  • Investing in better health services
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  • Budget 2022: A secure future
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  • Health Minister to attend World Health Assembly in Geneva
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  • Trade and Export Growth Minister to travel to Bangkok for APEC
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  • Government delivers new ICU space at Christchurch Hospital
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  • Belarusian leaders and defence entities targeted under latest round of sanctions
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