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Government announces significant changes to traffic light settings and mandates

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 am, March 23rd, 2022 - 218 comments
Categories: covid-19, health, jacinda ardern, labour, national - Tags:

The Government has announced changes to Covid policies relating to traffic light settings and mandates.  From the Beehive Website:

  • From midnight this Friday, traffic light settings simplified
  • Changes to Red that will be effective from this weekend are:
    • Capacity limits removed for all outdoor events
    • Indoor capacity limits for the likes of bars and restaurants doubled from 100 to 200
    • Outdoor face mask requirements removed
  • All restrictions other than mask wearing requirements removed at Orange
  • Use of My Vaccine Pass and requirement to scan in ends on April 4
  • All vaccine mandates removed from April 4, except for health and disability, aged care, corrections and border workforces

From the article:

New Zealand’s successful management of the Omicron outbreak and high rates of vaccination mean it’s now safe to ease the restrictions that have successfully prevented widespread health and economic damage, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

“The evidence shows we are coming off the Omicron peak with cases in Auckland having already declined significantly, and a decline expected nationally by early April,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“To date we’ve had more than 500,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and expert modellers say there have probably been 1.7 million actual infections. That figure, coupled with 95 percent of New Zealanders being fully vaccinated, means we now have a high level of collective immunity.

“New Zealanders have worked incredibly hard to get through this pandemic and as a result of those efforts we are now in a position to move forward and change the way we do things.

“First up we have simplified the COVID-19 Protection Framework to target restrictions at those activities that reduce transmission the most.

“From 4 April, My Vaccine Pass will no longer be required by the Government meaning Kiwis will no longer have to be vaccinated in order to enter those venues covered by the Pass. Scanning in requirements for the vaccinated will also end.

“We recognise that some businesses, events or venues may still choose to use vaccine passes, so we will maintain the infrastructure for them.

“From 4 April, vaccine mandates will be removed, except for health and disability, aged care, corrections and border workforces.

“Like many other countries we are retaining a small number of mandates targeted at keeping our COVID-19 frontline staff safe and to ensure our most vulnerable, like those in aged care facilities or those with disabilities, are protected from the virus.

“I know for many this part of our defence against COVID-19 was one of the hardest. But mandates meant we reached the levels of vaccination needed to prevent the devastating outbreaks seen across the world.

“We’ve also used the evidence gathered over the last few months on Omicron to make changes to the Red and Orange settings.

“From midnight this Friday outdoor gathering limits will be lifted. We know being outdoors for gatherings is safe. We want to encourage that, especially at Red.

“We also believe we can lift indoor gathering limits at Red with little material impact on hospitalisations, so these will double from 100 to 200.

“Orange settings remain broadly the same with no gathering limits but extra guidance on holding safe events, and a new requirement for workers to wear masks at indoor events.

“And so, simply put, Red means indoor gathering limits and masks, Orange means masks, and Green means guidance.

“At all levels, the testing and isolation requirements remain as they are now.

“We are keeping the traffic light framework in order to offer ongoing protections in the event of a new variant or in cases of future surges, but our plan is to move down to Orange and then ultimately Green once it is safe to do so.

“Putting people’s health is the best economic approach. The hard work and sacrifices of New Zealanders delivered the lowest numbers of cases and deaths in the OECD for the last two years and puts us in the best position to recover strongly.

“With our cases coming down it’s time to take our next steps with confidence in the collective immunity and protections we have built up. These new settings support greater economic activity and get everyone closer to feeling a bit more normal, while also continuing to manage COVID-19 and provide protection and care for those who need it most.

“With our economy now larger than pre-COVID levels, record low levels of unemployment, and tourism about to reopen we are in a strong position to accelerate our recovery. Our COVID-19 restrictions have been tough, but they have delivered a strong foundation for us to move forward,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The changes seem rational.  Outdoor transmission is very rare.  Mask wearing is still supported.

National will not doubt claim credit for “pressuring” the government to loosen the rules up while at the same time complaining that the changes do not go far enough.  Who would have thought that free marketeers would think the best thing was to let the virus rip.

Auckland infection numbers are declining significantly and the rest of the country will hopefully follow.  Fingers crossed that the virus continues to decline in severity and that Kiwis take the opportunity and the strong advice to be triple vaxed.

218 comments on “Government announces significant changes to traffic light settings and mandates ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    I got my booster just before Xmas – anyone know the latest on if a 4th booster is needed?

  2. Cricklewood 2

    What a difference a month makes… who would have thought they'd ditch passes and mandates before many parts of NZ had seen even close to peak… that's pressure for you.

    Long overdue.

    • lprent 2.1

      sigh only idiots and Plywood can't remember time lines. Or waves of infection and the reasons for doing pandemic responses.

      The vaccine passes and mandates were put in for the known issues with Delta after it had community spread starting mid-August last year.

      Mandates were put into place in October (?) to progressively come into force (I think the last went into force at the end of December) to reduce front-facing staff and essential services as Auckland came out of lockdown.

      They were designed to limit the spread of rather deadlier version of Delta covid-19

      In November there was also announced a timetable for when pandemic responses like MIQ and mandates were due to start being removed unless there was a change. That was due to start towards the end of January and Feb based on Delta outbreaks offshore and the pattern of vaccinations we had. I'd guess that announcement went straight through that airy space you call a skull.

      That got pushed out a month in Jan as the Omicron went ape-shit in Aussie and elsewhere, Our state unlike the dumbarse liberals in aussie wisely decided to observe what happened rather then making fools of themselves as the Morrison and the the idiot premier in NSW did by proceeding with electioneering in the middle of a pandemic.

      Omicron arrived here in late January. It effectively pushed delta out by being more infectious. AS Delta appears to have pretty much died out at the end of Feb. The timetable for opening up and stopping restrictions started again.

      As a decision it had essentially nothing to do with the useless protesters and little to do with the grandstanding ineffectual opposition.

      What is it with the number of fools trying to claim efficacy when they're just ineffectual dipshits.

      • Cricklewood 2.1.1

        C'mon it was said restrictions would be eased once the peak had passed, so far the peak seems to have passed in Auckland… but definitely not there yet elsewhere in the country.

    • Hongi Ika 2.2

      Chromus Domus and Seymour Guns will be as happy as "pigs in shit" however Seymour still whinging like a child, can't believe he got !!% of the Vote in the 2020 Election.

  3. James Simpson 3

    The timing for this seems odd. We are at the peak of the outbreak, hospitals are at capacity and we are loosening restrictions. What?

    Michael Baker and Rod Jackson have warned against this.

    National is starting to dictate government policy. I would prefer we reverted to relying on the science.

    People will die as a result of this.

    • Cricklewood 3.1

      Pressure, the wellington protest opened a window for oppo parties to pressure the govt on restrictions… polls started to move so the govt is moving…

      • James Simpson 3.1.1

        That's my observation as well. For the first time in 2 years we are doing what the rest of the world did. Following politics rather than science.

        I guess we will get the same outcomes as them too

        • arkie 3.1.1.1

          As a country we do have a depressingly common tradition of adopting international 'norms' or practices long after they have demonstrated their ineffectuality elsewhere, often with the seeming hope that it will end differently here. Alas.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.2

        polls started to move so the govt is moving…

        So it seems. Abandon hope, all ye health experts, freedom has defeated the precautionary principle. Labour is going with the flow of the people now.

        It's a gamble – but I'm okay with that. If the pandemic produces a new wave they can always do the flip-flop back again.

        If there's an omicron resurgence as a result of removal of restrictions they can always say we had to do what most people wanted. I presume focus groups have prompted them too. Perception defeats reality.

    • mickysavage 3.2

      I am not sure that they have warned the Government against the steps that it has taken.

      They warned against removing the mask mandate in indoor settings which the Government has maintained. They made no mention about outdoor settings.

      If and when we get back to orange there will be less than 1,000 new daily cases.

      They have also acknowledged that pressure on Auckland's hospital system is now on the decline.

      https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/covid-19-hospitalisations-now-peaking-in-aotearoa-nz-but-key-covid-19-control-measures-still-need-to-be-maintained/#more-19220

      • arkie 3.2.1

        Te Pūnaha Matatini project lead Dr Dion O'Neale said the current framework was designed around reducing transmission with Delta for which it gave good protection.

        But that is not the case with the Omicron outbreak where three vaccine doses are needed to reduce transmission.

        Good mask wearing, isolating and rapid antigen testing have also become key measures for controlling the spread of Omicron.

        While some of those measures may need to be stepped up, it leaves room to relax in any other areas, he told Morning Report.

        Self-isolating has been reduced to seven days in the main to allow people to remain at work and it might be better to lengthen it to 10 days, Dr O'Neale said.

        "We'd hope that some of those protections that we took off as we moved up through our case numbers … as it becomes effective for them to come back into play again that we put them back on and so that would mean probably pushing that isolation period back out to 10 days or using a negative test to return situation [to work]."

        Asked about the prospect of the government ditching vaccine passes and increasing the size of gatherings, Dr O'Neale said it might send a false message to people that things are safe "which is absolutely not the case".

        "We're still in a situation with very high infection numbers out there."

        Even if case numbers dropped from 20,000 (which was yesterday's new cases number) to 5000, people need to remain cautious about the infection risk.

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/463839/covid-19-measures-isolation-period-vaccine-passes-may-need-to-be-stricter-modeller

        The Government hasn't listened to these experts.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 3.3

      Two years to the day…

      23 March 2020
      The worst case scenario is simply intolerable. It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders' lives in our country’s history. I will not take that chance.
      Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

      I fear you're right James – a few more Kiwis will die as a result of this politically pragmatic decision to begin elbowing the precautionary principle out of the driver's seat, if not the car door, sooner rather than later.

      Still, it's a sound political move – I only have one (Party) vote, and it wasn't going to centre-left Labour anyway. Imho most of our government's responses to the pandemic have been OK, so far – certainly better than many other better-resourced administrations .

      New Zealand's Covid-19 response still one of the best worldwide – Michael Baker [28 February 2022]
      Baker said he is still optimistic about the future, highlighting that life expectancy in New Zealand has risen by about eight months over the course of the pandemic...

      Let's hope these politically pragmatic moves towards living with COVID, and Omicron in particular, don't dampen Baker's optimism.

      "It's a mixed bag from a public health point of view."

      "My biggest concern is really around timing…"

      "The virus is not political – it doesn't get the memo that says we'd actually like it to go away yet – it's not going to go away in a hurry."
      https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/middayreport/audio/2018835349/covid-19-prof-michael-baker-with-analysis-on-the-changes

    • lprent 3.4

      It is pretty straightforward. We are about as vaccinated as we can be. Anyone apart from the under-5s who want to be vaccinated is vaccinated.

      The hospitalisations have been following pretty much what was expected and they're coping. We have wide-spread community transmission already – so everyone who is susceptible and exposed will get it anyway.

      The people winding up in hospital are mostly the unvaccinated, as are those dying. It was their choice. For the unvaccinated it is better getting them vaccinated the hard way with a less deadly version of the disease while we are still shielding those most at risk.

      Basically this is the optimal time to get NZ in as good a state of immune responses as is possible. It is better than than waiting for the next waves coming through, on the basis that they are most likely to be more deadly than omicron.

      This was all announced last year in October as a roadmap post Delta for late Jan/Feb this year. The omicron outbreak just pushed it by a month.

    • Hongi Ika 3.5

      Political I think as they are getting so much flak from NAT/ACT and the rabble rousers like Tamake and Destiny Church. got to follow the polls ?

  4. Ad 4

    So we've had 1.7 million infections out of a 5 million population. About 33% of us.

    Australia has had 4 million infections out of 26 million. About 15% of them.

    It's the infection rate rather than the death rate that matters for long term effect.

    Why were we more infected, hence more long term damaged, compared to our closest comparator?

    • Poission 4.1

      NZ infection rate is 10% since august.(513126)

    • Koff 4.2

      The 1.7 million figure is a guesstimate based on under reporting. The official number is just over 500,000 as Micky has quoted above from JA's speech. The Australian total guestimated numbers are also probably around 3 – 4 times the official number, possibly more because when the Oz outbreak occurred, there weren't many RATs available or none, so the official numbers reflect PCR testing more than in NZ where RAT tests have predominated in the NZ outbreak (and continue to do so). Fatality rates in NZ seem to be less than Vic or NSW, but about the same as Queensland, but still unnerving and sad.

    • Gypsy 4.3

      And in the last 7 days we have the 7th highest number of reported cases per capita and the 49th highest death rate per capita in the world (out of 210).

      Our total cases per 000 people are now 107,723, which is significantly higher than the global figure of 60,899.

      • DB Brown 4.3.1

        Yes, aren't we lucky that when covid finally has got loose in our society we are highly vaccinated, and the strain is less virulent.

        Omicron is a killer, but less so. In a short space of time the world's covid deaths have shifted from 2% of closed cases to 1%. Even at 1% deaths we could have lost 5000 people of those 500K cases so far.

        Today we have less than 200 deaths. Because of brilliant governance. Thousands of lives saved. Untold grief avoided.

        And it was governance met by such resistance. Such unreasonable, entitled, ignorant, ill informed, opinionated, crazy and overwhelmingly self centred resistance.

        • Gypsy 4.3.1.1

          You're party political broadcast is long on hyperbole and short on reality.

          "Even at 1% deaths we could have lost 5000 people of those 500K cases so far."

          We were never going to have 5,000 deaths. That is hysterical nonsense. The total Global Population Mortality Rate since early 2021 is 0.053%. That would result in around 2,500 deaths. But even that PMR is way too high, because it includes country's with considerably lower vaccination rates, and far more problematic social conditions.

          The response of our government to covid was very good throughout 2020 and early 2021. However multiple failings since, including the failure to have vaccines and rapid testing in the community much sooner has cost our country financially, socially and ultimately in health outcomes. The failure to use the gains of 2020 to adequately prepare for Delta are well documented.

          • Poission 4.3.1.1.1

            No hysteria there.By ensuring a high rate of vaccination in both elderly and the at risk population we ensured a lower rate of death.

            Compare with Hong Kong,with an Omicron outbreak, low rates of vaccination in the elderly population and low rates of boosted vaccination.

            An Infection fatality rate of 4.7% says you are not even wrong.

            • Gypsy 4.3.1.1.1.1

              "No hysteria there.By ensuring a high rate of vaccination in both elderly and the at risk population we ensured a lower rate of death."

              The hysteria is in making claims that are mathematically illogical.

              The global PMR is only 0.053%, including country's with considerably lower vaxx rates.

              Also, comparing HK to NZ is like comparing apples and bananas. HK is extremely densely populated, and as you point out, have much lower vaxx rates among the elderly. There are a number of reasons that have been suggested for that, most of which again show up the vast social differences.

              • Poission

                It is not mathematically illogical,it is a neat statistical fact,Sure HK has a population density,so does Taiwan or Singapore (the latter removing restrictions on outdoor mask wearing today) but both also have comparative vacccination rates.

                .

                • Gypsy

                  The 'neat statistical fact' is the PMR.

                  • Poission

                    Um no.We had to countries that due to quarantine constraints,and significant NPI requirements simultaneously to a "mild strain' at the same time.

                    The difference in outcomes at present are the Vaccination rates,and the IFR of which we have high quality data for Rigorous analysis (as it unfolds)

                    Your arguments are irrelevant for comparative analysis.

                    • Gypsy

                      You're trying to compare countries that are simply not the same. Vaccination rates matter, but so do some of the cultural factors that are at play in, eg, Hong Kong. We have huge geographic and social advantages in fighting a pandemic. The idea that we could have had 5,000 dead is pure fantasy.

                    • Poission

                      but so do some of the cultural factors that are at play in, eg, Hong Kong

                      Now what cultural factors would they be.

                      A higher educated population?

                      A higher life expectancy (3 yrs longer then nz)

                      More statistical analysts then oceania?

                • pat

                  And it is not insignificant Hong Kong has Sinovac.

                  • Poission

                    Sinovac was used earlier for the elderly,but its immunity (as all) waned and as far as a i know a booster was not available.

                    There was also a significant push back by elderly against vaccination due to its requirements coming from the political authority ( read CCP) when they still consider themselves British.

                    • pat

                      My recent reading has Sinovac at around half the efficacy of Phizer and the availability of Phizer in Hong Kong very low due to policy decision to promote Sinovac.

                      As said those facts are not insignificant to outcomes.

          • Incognito 4.3.1.1.2

            Go to: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

            Rank Countries by Deaths/1M pop.

            At present, 89 countries have seen >1,000 Deaths/1M pop. Are these all “country's [sic] with considerably lower vaccination rates, and far more problematic social conditions.”?

            In NZ, this would equate to ca. 5,000 deaths overall – we’re currently ranked at #192 with 38 Deaths/1M pop.

          • DB Brown 4.3.1.1.3

            You ought to learn to read.

            I don't vote Labour, I just recognise good work when I see it.

            And Sir Brian Roche is about as relevant to me, with my post-grad epidemiology, microbiology and evolution qualifications, as a tea leaf reader.

            He is a business executive, so frankly, who gives a toss?

            You, don't you. You saw that title and went weak at the knees. Oooh, Sir!

            Another f'n bean counter who knows everything.

            • Gypsy 4.3.1.1.3.1

              Ah, Sir Brian Roche knows how to make things happen. He is also Chair of the independent Covid-19 improvement and advice group. Quite frankly your quals mean F all to me unless you've actually got something to show for them.

          • Incognito 4.3.1.1.4

            The total Global Population Mortality Rate since early 2021 is 0.053%.

            You have not provided a link, but it seems to me that you’re out by a large factor.

            In the year ending June 2021, there were about 33,500 deaths registered in NZ, which is way more than your hypothetical number of 2,500 deaths. I think you’re talking BS.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 4.3.1.1.5

            From 1 January 2021 until now, G7 countries have recorded population mortality rates (PMRs) for COVID-19 ranging from 0.19% (USA) to 0.019% (Japan). https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

            NZ's corresponding population mortality rate is a relatively low 0.0037% – a stunning achievement imho. Hats off to all contributors.

            Consider that if NZ had a moderate G7 COVID mortality rate of 0.057%, corresponding to that of highly-vaccinated Canada, then ~2850 Kiwis would have died from 1 Jan. 2021 until now, rather than the ~187 (217 – 30) that have (tragically) died. Not that it’s a competition.

            Two years since NZ first locked down – Expert Reaction
            [21 March 2022]

            “New Zealand needs to continue investing in public health and pandemic control infrastructure: Colleagues and I have summarised some of the key lessons from the first two years of the pandemic in a Conversation article to mark the two-year anniversary of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in New Zealand. Our major conclusion is that taking a highly proactive public health response to the pandemic has given New Zealand some of the best health, wellbeing, and economic outcomes seen globally.

            “New Zealand was the first country to publish an elimination strategy for responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. This response minimised harms to the population and economy during the first 18 months of the pandemic until effective vaccines became widely available. Since then, New Zealand has shifted its response in a highly strategic way to suppression and now mitigation. This strategic approach has given the country the lowest Covid-19 mortality in the OECD and increased life expectancy.

            “As the Omicron pandemic wave will soon start to recede, it is appropriate to lessen many pandemic control measures, such as border entry restrictions and the ‘Traffic Light’ system. At the same time, New Zealand needs to maintain a set of key control measures that can be turned up or down depending on the future evolution of the pandemic.

            • Gypsy 4.3.1.1.5.1

              Your numbers are pretty close to the way I see it.

              The global PMR since end 2020 is 0.053%. Applied to NZ's population (I'm using 4.917m) the deaths would total 2,611, which is around half of the 5,000 some are claiming.

              I'm also looking at the 'weekly trends'. In the past 7 days we have the 6th highest population case rate in the world, and the 47th highest population mortality rate. Both numbers have got worse since I last checked and noted the results on the 23rd.

  5. The announcement was fairly predictable, and debatably overdue.

    The thing that irks me most is the diatribe that we have to listen to before she gets to the point. She always seems to have to start with some long rant regurgitating the history of Covid in NZ before she actually gets to the point.

    Probably not even any need to hold a presser really. Could have just been a press release. But politics demands otherwise I expect.

    • Nic the NZer 5.1

      Have you tried not watching the briefing?

    • mac1 5.2

      Diatribe- "a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something."

      You heard that in the PM's briefing, tsmithfield?

      "Could have just been a press release". Can't ask questions of a press release………

      • Incognito 5.2.1

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diatribe [third definition, but archaic]

        It makes sense to someone who grew up using cassette tapes.

        • mac1 5.2.1.1

          Hang on! I remember cassette tapes. Does that mean I'm archaic?

          Serious question. If a definition is described as archaic, does that still legitimise that meaning if used in a modern context?

          • McFlock 5.2.1.1.1

            Well, yeah, but nobody can be blamed for suspecting the person in question was being intentionally vague in their meaning or that the archaic meaning is retconning their original meaning.. Unless the person using the word is a 400 year old vampire or has been studying archaic texts for most of their life.

            cf: Pratchett/Gaiman, "Good Omens" book within the book The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter.

            • mac1 5.2.1.1.1.1

              'Retconning"! Thanks, McFlock, for a new word.

              Another weapon in the armoury of the users of weasel words- "Oh, I didn't mean that meaning. I meant the old usage. When I said thumbs down, I meant thumbs up…. like the Romans did. You know."

          • mary_a 5.2.1.1.2

            Mac1 … if you think you are archaic for remembering cassettes, what does it make me then … a fossil? Because I can remember the 78, 45, & 33 RPM recordslaugh

          • Incognito 5.2.1.1.3

            I’ve always interpreted diatribe as ‘longwinded lecture’ and mostly boring irrelevant gibberish and I don’t consider myself as archaic, more like old-school. Sure, archaic is fine in modern language, why wouldn’t it be? It’s still part of our language as long as it is in dictionaries wink

      • tsmithfield 5.2.2

        Perhaps I would replace the word "diatribe" with "rambling commentary" smiley

      • tsmithfield 5.2.3

        Something she could do to improve her pressers is to include patriotic music and canned applause. smiley

        • mac1 5.2.3.1

          I would have said "historical contextual prologue" but then I was trained as an historian and context was important……..

          As for the canned applause and patriotic music I'd leave that to American comedies and C&W shows. But I suspect you already know that.

    • aom 5.3

      Evidence of a short attention span and reactive thinking rather than of one who spends a couple of minutes to develop an informed assessment

      • Shanreagh 5.3.1

        Agree……what is so important in our lives that we cannot spend a couple of minutes on the background to the measures and why they can be lifted. Giving birth possibly would be an imperative……

        I actually rarely now listen to the questions as they long ago ceased to have any relevance and have gone back to being prelims for 'gotchas' and not showing the light on what may be difficult concepts etc.

    • AB 5.4

      When a short, accurate persual of recent history become a 'diatribe', then contact with reality has been lost.

    • weston 5.5

      She she she …makes you sound like a misogynist smith ,just sayin

  6. weka 6

    The changes seem rational.

    You will have to explain this to me. Because the government is removing protocols designed to limit and slow spread of omicron, and reduce pressure on health system, just as omicron is peaking in the South Island.

    Wtaf?

    Are we to assume one or both of the following?

    1. the protocols weren't that effective/didn't actually matter
    2. We don't have to be concerned about omicron in the SI

    Reminder that some people in the SI live a bloody long way from a hospital that can treat covid. And some of those places have limited emergency care including ambulances and air lifts.

    • aom 6.1

      Actually weka, it seems as if a mandate has been imposed on the most vulnerable in society. The changes seem to convenience the self-entitled which means others have to hibernate on threat of death. Great. What happened to the caring society – if it ever existed.

    • roy cartland 6.2

      I get the feeling it's very Auckland-centric. Cases are on the rise in Wellington as well, and the hospitals are maxing out.

      But the Mighty North has spoken, and so it shall be. Or something.

    • Logical, because we will soon be having tourists here. So, issues such as mandates, vaccine passes and the like become difficult to enforce consistently.

      Also, given that nearly everyone is vaccinated and/or has had Covid, mandates and vaccine passes seem a bit pointless.

      Regardless of whether Omicron has peaked or not, I can't really see what extra protection those methods would give.

      • McFlock 6.3.1

        the tourist point is basically "we do one thing stupid which makes the other thing useless, so we won't do the other thing either.

        The vaccine passes provided reassurance, as well as direct harm minimisation (lowering the probability of an encounter with an infected and contagious person). Prepare for more bleating that not enough people are going into town. Choice, not mandate.

        • tsmithfield 6.3.1.1

          It gets to the point where the minimal extra risk isn't enough to justify continuing to limit people's human rights.

          Around 95% are fully vaccinated now, and a lot of the remaining unvaccinated will have had Omicron now, and thus have natural immunity.

          Also, vaccinated people are able to transmit Omicron. Though perhaps at not as higher infection rate as an unvaccinated person.

          Taking that all into account, the additional risk of transmission by dropping mandates and vaccine passes must be incredibly small.

          • McFlock 6.3.1.1.1

            Nah, it just reinforces the polar possibilities that we're either slowly easing off controls at the appropriate time, or we're compounding a tragic error with a less tragic error because some people are morons and some business owners are fucking sociopaths who don't care if their bottom line kills people.

            Other than that, it doesn't really add anything to the discussion.

            • Shanreagh 6.3.1.1.1.1

              I love the way with words here:

              some people are morons and some business owners are fucking sociopaths who don't care if their bottom line kills people.

              I've called them 'drongos' in a post earlier on, then worried that I was too harsh and thought I would get a few agin the word. But I see I am in great company McFlock.

              smiley

          • aom 6.3.1.1.2

            Eyes wide shut and engrossed in your own little world tsmithfield. These political changes don't appear to be endorsed by those we should listen to, the experts. But no the – noddies who don't give a fuck as long as they have no restrictions or rule or constraints have their way

            Wait until it all turns to shit (very predictable given the mutations that are likely to arrive) and perhaps you or your own suffer. Will you still claim that your rights overrule those who are vulnerable and shout that the Government was irresponsible?

            • tsmithfield 6.3.1.1.2.1

              A question for you and McFlock:

              When does all this end? If not now, then when? Because there will be mutations of this thing coming around for years to come I expect.

              Are we to stay in our little (imagined) cacoon until Covid is no worse than the common cold?

              What about all the other harm that is consequential to our covid restrictions? For instance, I was talking to a medical friend the other day who said it is going to take about ten years to catch up with deferred health procedures.

              • KJT

                "said it is going to take about ten years to catch up with deferred health procedures".

                It would be taking a bloody sight longer if we had hospitals clogged with covid patients for the last two years, like the UK!

                Covid restrictions, in NZ, succeeded in avoiding much greater harms.

                • Belladonna

                  I know 3 people in my wider acquaintanceship (friends of friends) – who have diagnoses of stage 4 cancer (different types).

                  In all 3 cases, the diagnosis (and therefore any possible treatment) was delayed due to Covid (referrals not happening, specialist appointments delayed, etc.). In at least 2 of the cases, there was a window of opportunity for treatment which has now been missed.

                  So, for those people, the lockdowns have been a death sentence.

                  People die of other things, not just covid.
                  In 2019 (last pre-Covid year for death stats) – nearly 10,000 people died of cancer in NZ.

                  https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/mortality-web-tool/

                  I would expect those numbers to increase over the next couple of years – as these otherwise-treatable cancers result in unnecessary deaths.

                  • KJT

                    The point is, without the lockdowns, there would have been much greater backlogs in treatment.

                    So. You friends may not be better off with lockdowns. But without them, would have been joined by many more.

                    I have First hand accounts from a friend who works in a hospital in New York State, of turning away patients with broken legs and other injuries, because they were totally overwhelmed with covid. I presume you are aware of the fatality rate with serious breaks, without proper medical treatment.

                    • Belladonna

                      Um. No. In retrospect, there is no reason why specialist medical treatment couldn't have been (entirely safely) carried out during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

                      And, I can't see any way that there would have been greater backlogs without lockdowns.

                      People who are being diagnosed and treated for serious illnesses (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are highly motivated to maintain scrupulous anti-risk-of-Covid protocols. It's hard to see how initiating their treatment would have substantially increased the risk to the general community.

                      The risk, was increased substantially by the drug-dealers and other people who quite simply ignored lockdowns and continued their usual way of life. But even these, didn't result in a tsunami of Covid cases.

                      In all of the lockdowns, the whole hospital system was 'cleared' for a wave of Covid cases which never eventuated. A better solution would have been to wait until the Covid hospitalization case numbers hit a threshold, before pausing other healthcare.

                      Now, we have the wave of Omicron cases inundating the hospitals – and specialist appointments are continuing unabated (my 80+ year old Mum has just had an eye appointment at Greenlane). Which makes a nonsense of the argument that they needed to cease during earlier lockdowns.

                      The medical specialists – heart, cancer, etc. – operate entirely separately from the general hospital admissions. Equating them with general A&E cases which are impacted by Covid emergency and hospitalization cases, is a fallacy.

                    • KJT

                      A rather circular argument.

                      The fact that lockdowns left unused hospital capability. Because they worked.

                      Does not mean that without lockdowns we would have been able to treat the people you are talking about.

                      Like my example from New York State, they would have had to turn away both accident, and cancer, patients due to lack of room, and staff, if we hadn't had lockdowns.

    • James Simpson 6.4

      Completely agree Weka.

      How can anyone describe the changes as rational when the majority of New Zealand (geographically) has not peaked.

      If they are so rational today, why were they not implemented a month ago when Auckland numbers were rising on a daily basis?

      This is political.

      • mickysavage 6.4.1

        There is no reported instance of Omicron being spread outside. To remove capacity limits on outside events seems rational.

        Scanning in was good for Delta when we had limited spread and the chance through track and tracing of arresting the spread. With Omicron there is no chance of this working so to remove the requirement is rational.

        There is no evidence that inside head count limits are working. Doubling them involves very little indication that the spread will increase.

        My vaccine pass requirement is to be removed on April 4. The spread will be going down by then.

        Vaccine mandates for some will remain. The major job was to incentivise getting vaccinated and this has worked well. Continued focus on mask wearing will minimise risk.

        Please address the details of the announcement. There are enough people saying that everything has been removed which is not true.

        • McFlock 6.4.1.1

          There is no reported instance of Omicron being spread outside

          But lots of victims of radiation weapons at the parliament clownvoy, and the cases diagnosed after soundsplash also test the reasonable precision of that statement.

          • Cricklewood 6.4.1.1.1

            I would imagine shared accommodation ie tents and sleeping in cars to behind the spread at those events.

            • McFlock 6.4.1.1.1.1

              Maybe. Maybe not. Close crowds were a possible problem under OG covid (lots of the BLM rallies tried to have social distancing, though), and if omicron is more infectious than previous strains especially in the un-immunised…

        • James Simpson 6.4.1.2

          When did Chris Bishop hack your account? I am being facetious but what you are saying is basically what we would expect from him.

          Do you not expect people to die as a result of this decision?

          • arkie 6.4.1.2.1

            It is a choice. A choice to throw those immunocompromised to the wolves for the 'return of normal'.

            • Incognito 6.4.1.2.1.1

              Hyperbole from a well-meaning MP who has no medical training or background. For the general population, mandates have outlived their usefulness – it was rather short-lived anyway, as intended and expected.

              • Dennis Frank

                I'm inclined to agree (but will keep an open mind on it). She wrote that "we are excluded, isolated." I can't see how that could be true. Strikes me she's confusing her inner feeling reaction with reality.

                “There are many ways people can be immunocompromised,” says Stuart Seropian, MD, a Smilow Cancer Hospital hematologist who specializes in blood cancers. “The immune system is complex, and made up of many different types of immune cells that serve different functions. There isn’t one ‘immunocompromised state.’ There are many.”

                https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/what-does-immunocompromised-mean

                Govt can’t reasonably be expected to protect the public when most of them no longer believe the restrictions are required. It does make those with impaired bodily defense systems more vulnerable though.

                • Incognito

                  But she’s adding to the general confusion. For example, a cancer survivor is not immuno-compromised. However, a cancer patient who’s received certain type of treatment within a certain period before vaccination may be immuno-compromised.

                  https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/third-primary-dose-policy-statement-clinical-guidance-25feb2022.pdf

                  • arkie

                    Oh look! The MP can clear up the 'confusion' in a context with a less restrictive character limit, who-da thunk it.

                    "For a mum who has survived breast cancer, chemotherapy would have made her immunocompromised so she has to decide whether to send her kids to school where there's no teacher vaccine mandates and then put herself and her life at risk having survived cancer.

                    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/463880/parties-critical-of-plan-to-lower-covid-19-restrictions

                    • Incognito

                      Certain cancer treatments do indeed have a major negative effect on the immune system. However, this effect is not lasting and after a certain period such patients would not be considered to have a weakened response to Covid vaccination – in this context, breast cancer treatment is much milder on the immune system than treatment for blood cancers, for example. In any case, it will take some time and testing/checking before a patient is declared cancer-free.

                    • arkie

                      I assume you have medical training?

                    • Incognito []

                      The most sensible comment, so far.

                  • aom

                    Wow – " a cancer patient who’s received certain type of treatment within a certain period before vaccination may be immuno-compromised." Having been through the document, it was not clear where you got you got the information that clinically asserts your statement. Also, it is noted that you haven't provided any statistical data. Are you talking about one exception to establish your rule?

                    Having just fought a third cancer (differing types) and had over 70 chemotherapy and radiation therapy interventions over the last 16 months, you will maybe understand why there is an inclination to trust the advice of numerous professionals instead of your inexpert reading of a medical document. To add reality to your ignorance, recovery from cancer is never guaranteed and monitoring is multi-year, before any confident prognosis is likely.

                    You are ranting in a dangerous manner – especially when you may compromise any cancer suffer who for whatever reason acts on your word.

                    • Incognito

                      This comment of yours actually and finally explains a lot.

                      I’d suggest you talk to your doctor rather than jumping to wrong conclusions from reading a misleading tweet by an MP who’s not medically qualified in the slightest. Especially if you have received recent treatment that may have affected your bone marrow cells.

                • aom

                  Which world to you and incognito live in Dennis? Do you have any conception of how those whose circumstances you disregard are affected by the wholesale ditching of all the protections they had. One can only assume that if you are not driven by self-entitlement that you are classis, racist, eugenicists who totally lack any basic sense of humanity.

                  As for you Dennis, do you take joy in so ignorantly going for the low blow on someone who makes a worthwhile contribution to society despite a debilitating condition. I can think of many obscene descriptors that you deserve but will leave it at misogynistic lest I be banned by your running mate inconito.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    My father died of multiple sclerosis – he was gradually increasingly crippled by it throughout my childhood & youth.

                    However that is irrelevant to what I wrote. Rather than emoting incoherently, it would have been better for you to address the public interest in the situation instead. The government is, obviously!

                    • aom

                      Short answer – if you depend on a government that is blatantly prostituting itself for votes, you haven't much to offer.

                      As for 'emoting incoherently', that insulting remark does you absolutely no credit, especially when you seem to think that the vulnerable don't warrant consideration as part of your 'public interest' to justify it.

                  • Incognito

                    There’s no “wholesale ditching of all the protections”, so stop your lies! Your comments have been really off lately and I hope you will calm down soon.

                • Patricia Bremner

                  As an asthmatic, I worry about supply chains. I will wear a mask when I go out. I will social distance and hand wash, plus listen to the advice. JKey can stuff his hermit shite where the sun does not shine. The person who does diatribes is Hosking.angry

              • arkie

                I'm happy for you that you can dismiss the health concerns of someone with Multiple Sclerosis as hyperbole, however her point is that disabled, elderly and immunocompromised people are not 'the general population'. Protecting the vulnerable is no longer the governments priority. That's the choice.

                • Incognito

                  What are mandates doing for those people?

                  • arkie

                    The knowledge that when they need to use public buildings or private businesses they can be confident they will only possibly encounter lowered viral loads due to the vaccines being mandatory in these spaces. Not being confident means self-isolation or 'hunkering down'. They will now be excluded from these spaces by the greater caution they must practice to have lives as much like 'the general population' as possible.

                    • Incognito

                      Nope. Mandates have already achieved this level of protection and removing them now won’t make a clinically meaningful difference, which was diminished anyway by Omicron cf. original, Alpha, and Delta variants. NB the available vaccines were all designed against the original variant. With Omicron, each individual has to protect themselves and cannot rely as much as before on others being fully vaccinated – most Kiwis are already fully vaccinated now anyway. In special settings an extra layer of precaution is still warranted and justified, which is why mandates stay in place in these settings.

                    • arkie

                      These changes will allow unvaccinated workers to return to education and police jobs, which people don't really have a choice about encountering at the very least, so not 'Nope'.

                      But I'm really getting the feeling you know best, so thanks for that, we needn't worry then. Them's the breaks.

                    • Incognito []

                      These sectors have seen some attrition of the workforce due to the mandates, but IIRC it was only very low percentages. In other words, dropping the mandates will not see a flood of unvaccinated workers return immediately and suddenly pose a huge risk to the people whom you’re concerned about, correctly or incorrectly.

                    • arkie

                      a flood of unvaccinated workers

                      Who's being hyperbolic now?

                      The issue for at-risk people isn't that there's now a horde of unvaccinated, it's that while chances of encountering and infected unvaccinated person are still low, they are no longer as close to zero as they were while there was a vaccine mandate.

                      It has been confirmed that the more vaccinated a person is (so to speak) affects the viral load during their infectious period regardless of variant.

                    • Incognito []

                      Unvaccinated people will slowly trickle back into those workforces and decrease the percentage of fully vaccinated employees from virtually 100 to about 98%, over time.

                      It has been confirmed that the more vaccinated a person is (so to spreak) [sic] affects the viral load during their infectious period regardless of variant.

                      Great but largely irrelevant. Now provide links to back this up in the context of the Omicron variants here in NZ.

                    • arkie

                      It doesn't seem irrelevant, but again you know best. Though I'm glad you're not my physician.

                      https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/22_february_2022_-_variants_update.pdf

                    • Incognito []

                      It is not relevant for the discussion about dropping the mandates. Who said that I’m not a physician?

                      Where in the PDF does it back your claim?

                      It has been confirmed that the more vaccinated a person is (so to speak) affects the viral load during their infectious period regardless of variant.

                    • arkie

                      I said, I'm glad you're not MY physician, Doctor. Reread the post.

                      There are several links to the various studies in the references of the Ministry of Health's Omicron update. I wasn't quoting the document directly. Admittedly I didn't think it controversial. Surely you don't disagree that viral load is affected by vaccination, and what is considered vaccination is now three shots, and that the higher the viral load the higher the transmissibility? That all seems relevant to people worrying about unwittingly encountering the virus during their day.

                    • Incognito []

                      So, your link did not back up your claim. That’s what I thought. I’m glad I’m not your physician.

                    • arkie

                      That document may not have, but Souixie Wells seems to here:

                      “We know that being boosted helps reduce transmission of this virus so upgrading vaccine passes to include the booster would have helped keep indoor environments safer for the more at-risk members of our community.

                      “Similarly, removing vaccine mandates for people working with our children who can’t yet be vaccinated makes me very nervous.”

                      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/463889/are-the-loosened-covid-19-rules-enough-experts-have-their-say

                      What is for certain is that we will be unable to get COVID under control until the majority of the worlds population is vaccinated. We should be careful to not let the most vulnerable feel as if they have not been a consideration. It is the care we show each other that makes our society.

                    • Incognito []

                      There you go again, the vulnerable have been and still definitely are considered. Misleading tweets stoke the wrong feelings. People should check for themselves whether they are indeed vulnerable and/or immune-compromised rather than feel vulnerable. They should check with their doctor. Feelings do matter, of course, but they should be adjusted based on facts, not tweets.

                      Next time you’re asked to back a specific statement of fact, don’t link to a 25-page information-dense document (PDF) that actually doesn’t back it up – it wastes precious times & energy of others.

                    • arkie

                      Whatever you say Doctor.

                  • aom

                    The lack of any protections means "those people" are forced to hibernate and have the real risk of severe health and lifestyle risks, up to and including a death sentence.

                • Incognito

                  AFAIK, MS per se doesn’t make one immuno-compromised or especially vulnerable to Omicron. However, certain MS medication/treatment might do. These are mentioned in the PDF that I linked to @ 5:29 pm (https://thestandard.org.nz/government-announces-significant-changes-to-traffic-light-settings-and-mandates/#comment-1877921). People who have questions or concerns should talk with their doctor instead of taking advice from a tweet by an MP.

                  • arkie

                    Again, hyperbole, no one is taking medical advice from the tweet. MPs are politicians and Ghahraman is making a political point.

                    The objection is largely to the progressive individualisation of the pandemic response. When you rely on government support to lead as autonomous life as possible you become keenly aware of how little consideration there is for your situation. It's depressing to see the 'Team of five million' disintegrate so easily, and for what, tourism and imported labour? Our people could be our priority. He aha te mea nui o te ao?

                    • Incognito

                      The tweet was confusing people, at best, and this thread here is evidence for that.

                    • arkie

                      You quibbled about whether 'cancer survivors' are at risk, semantics, then dismissed the not 'clinically meaningful' difference between the settings now and before the individualisation of the pandemic response. We have all evidently contributed to the confusion. I can assure you however, that those who are at risk aren't expecting 'herd immunity' from a vaccine that has never had sterilising immunity. I would hope in the event the one was developed that mandate would be reintroduced.

                      And the answer is: He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

                    • Incognito []

                      Ta

                  • DB Brown

                    My COPD makes me extremely vulnerable to this respiratory virus, and asthma rates in NZ are nothing to sniff at.

                    While I admire the government's effort to date, I think they've dropped the ball on mandates as well.

                    It is an aerosol disease, spread by aerosols who think they have more rights than others. We kept those aerosols out at one point, but now, the govt has abandoned us in deference to mentally ill aerosols.

                    Yes, I'm taking the piss. Yes, I'm also concerned about going anywhere after April, ANYWHERE could be a death sentence.

                    Thanks for listening.

              • mickysavage

                Police and Military removal was inevitable. The High Court said told the Government that its imposed mandates were going too far and there were internal employment contract processes they could rely on instead.

                This is not the end of mandates in areas. Instead each workplace is going to have to assess risk and work out what to do.

                The trouble with this debate is that it is presented as a binary yes/no. It is actually a complex review of a number of circumstances.

                • Incognito

                  That’s about the only genuine but minor criticism, that these decisions are complex and can be confusing for others. National & ACT have used this complexity of transition and adjustment to argue that the traffic light system per se is too hard and confusing. Once the ‘PR dust’ settles and clear summary sheets are taken in, most people will realise that the sky hasn’t fallen yet in Aotearoa.

                  Change, even minor, can be unsettling for people, especially for unsettled people who are easily rattled anyway, and some people try take advantage of this.

                  Risk assessment in workplaces and work environments will still remain in place, as you say. Most workforces are fully or almost completely vaccinated now and that’s a good position to be in.

          • mickysavage 6.4.1.2.2

            Idiot.

            Read and respond to my comment. Some of the limitations cannot be justified any more. There has to be a coherent case to justify justify limitations on individual rights. Address each point I made and tell me where I am wrong.

            • James Simpson 6.4.1.2.2.1

              Limitations can always be justified if they are going to save lives. We have sacrificed sooo much over the past 2 years. And why have we done that? To save lives.

              Why all of sudden are those limitations no longer justified?

              As Rod Jackson said earlier this week

              We're at the top at the moment. It makes absolutely no sense to remove any effective public health measures when we're still at the top.

              "It's crazy. I think it's political nonsense to be pushing to take them away now."

              https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/463715/omicron-peak-not-right-time-to-relax-public-health-measures-rod-jackson

              As I have always done (and I always thought you did as well), I listen to the experts. No expert has come out publicly and said this is a good idea.

              So you can call me an idiot all you like but this is going to spread the virus. Yes it will be nice to go the Chiefs game on Saturday night. But is that ‘nice to have’ worth it for the inevitable deaths that will follow. Let it rip was never part of the plan.

              • mickysavage

                Respond to the individual aspects of the announcement. And say if they are helpful or not helpful.

                Like … continuous emphasis on masks good.

                Outside stuff fine.

                Not checking in any more because track and trace is not working fine.

                But get down to this detail. Comparing me to Bishop will be met with an equal and hostile response.

                • James Simpson

                  As I said you can call me an idiot all you like. It doesn't phase me

                  • Incognito

                    Get over yourself and follow Micky's suggestions and you won’t be called an idiot, at least not by Micky.

                    • James Simpson

                      I don't care about the name calling. He is welcome to call me that if he so wishes.

                      I do however apologise to Mickey for offending him by comparing him to someone who has been advocating for the "freedoms' that we will all get tonight at 11.59.

                    • Incognito []

                      Bishop is a disingenuous Nat and if you make stupid comparisons such as you did then you can be expected to be called out on it.

                      I don’t know what ‘freedoms’ I’ll get [back] at midnight tonight, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.

                    • James Simpson

                      Which is precisely why I said I was being facetious in that comparison

                    • Incognito []

                      You have been told multiple times now by more than one person, so why you still fail to understand a perfectly straightforward objection to your deeply flawed comparison is beyond me, irrespective of whether you were being “facetious” or not really – your comment spoke volumes (https://thestandard.org.nz/government-announces-significant-changes-to-traffic-light-settings-and-mandates/#comment-1877885). Why don’t you just get over yourself and move on, or do you want me to do this for you as well?

        • Cricklewood 6.4.1.3

          Outdoor capacity limits havent made any sense for a very long time.

        • Poission 6.4.1.4

          There is no reported instance of Omicron being spread outside. To remove capacity limits on outside events seems rational.

          Omicron has not been around for specific case studies in specific settings.It is however well established that Covid 19 is airborne,and does cause infection in airborne environments both indoors and outdoors,being subject to the atmospheric environmental conditions,such as Temperature,relative humidity,haze etc.

          Recent measurements identified SARS-Cov-2 RNA on aerosols in Wuhan’s hospitals (18) and outdoor in northern Italy (21), unraveling the likelihood of indoor and outdoor airborne transmission. Within an enclosed environment, virus-bearing aerosols from human atomization are readily accumulated, and elevated levels of airborne viruses facilitate transmission from person to person. Transmission of airborne viruses in open air is subject to dilution, although virus accumulation still occurs due to stagnation under polluted urban conditions

          https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2009637117

          https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abd9149

        • Poission 6.4.1.5

          There is no evidence that inside head count limits are working. Doubling them involves very little indication that the spread will increase.

          The fluid equations are volumetric,ie the risk does not double it cubes.

          • mickysavage 6.4.1.5.1

            With 20,000 new infections a day (probably more like 60,000) open air measures to limit the spread are not going to make much difference.

            • Poission 6.4.1.5.1.1

              Maybe not,it will only increase the risk for those who are more likely to get it such as the under 30 demographic here or the under 15 in the UK.Both of which are increasing.

              https://twitter.com/ONS/status/1504791400721833984/photo/1

              As 1 in 3 hospitilised cases in NZ are under 30,we will see significant cases in that demographic.Its a young persons disease now.

        • weka 6.4.1.6

          My vaccine pass requirement is to be removed on April 4. The spread will be going down by then.

          What's the evidence that this is true in the SI regions?

    • McFlock 6.5

      Looking at the stats, it's possibly not so much that we don't need to worry about SI omicron so much as the actual numbers impacting the health system aren't near the same level as, say, Counties Manukau. Like, the actual number going to hospital is much smaller, so even if SI hasn't quite peaked there will still be some capacity in the health system.

      Which was the objective of flattening the curve: slow down the impact on society, especially the health system.

      Now, I'm still looking sideways at the insistence on reopening the schools and one or two other decisions, and if cabinet papers released in the future show that the primary motivation for this relaxation was polls and we just got lucky (or worse, unlucky) I'll be pissed, but I'm not entirely convinced the last few months have been an abject failure in the order of, say, UK/USA during 2020.

      • McFlock 6.5.1

        forgot to link a reasonable visualisation on the DHB numbers (ignore the chart regional titles, the DHBs are charted in alphabetical order):

      • weka 6.5.2

        Looking at the stats, it's possibly not so much that we don't need to worry about SI omicron so much as the actual numbers impacting the health system aren't near the same level as, say, Counties Manukau. Like, the actual number going to hospital is much smaller…

        Hasn't CM had covid for ages though? SI has had virtually none until very recently. I'm sure the other factors like population density and socioeconomics are also an issue.

        so even if SI hasn't quite peaked there will still be some capacity in the health system.

        What makes you think SI is close to peaking?

        • McFlock 6.5.2.1

          daily case rates by dhb. Chart is pretty regular, certainly not a swoop.

          Also ISTR vax rates in the far south were well above average (ISTR Queenstown got to >100% lol), lower household crowding would slow the spread, and the weather is still good.

          • weka 6.5.2.1.1

            ok, but don't those things delay peaking?

            • McFlock 6.5.2.1.1.1

              Yeah, but the longer the delay the lower the peak.

              lol froze my home machine looking at the case stats by day.

              Basically, the supercity DHBs started getting 3 figure cases in midfeb and peaked in early march.

              SI dhbs started increasing in latefeb/early march, but have a shallower gradient so the peak will also be lower and delayed, maybe midApril (canterbury is the big one).

              But it's not a hockey stick peak like Counties Manukau had (~4500 one day, ~6500 the next), it's a rolling hill. And we only have so many people in the SI, too.

    • lprent 6.6

      Because the government is removing protocols designed to limit and slow spread of omicron…

      Nope – they were put in place to deal with Delta. Restart from there.

      • weka 6.6.1

        if it's as simple as delta is over, then mentioning that in the announcement would have been bloody useful. Bit cryptic otherwise.

        The outside stuff seems fine. The inside stuff seems less clear re omicron. Most people I'm hearing about are getting covid now from kids who presumably are getting it at school. Whole families, fairly typical of other respiratory patterns (and this has been happening elsewhere earlier). If the evidence is that you need sustained indoor contact (eg over night) rather than just an evening in the pub, then I'd be interested to hear that (tbf, I'm not reading much of the science currently).

        I'll also note that omicron arrived in my area in part from people coming back from the protest. These are generally unvaccinated/boosted people, but also those who either think covid isn't that bad, or who trust their own immune systems, and thus don't take as many or any precautions unless required to. Thankfully it seems to have gone through that part of the community early, but really I'm relying here on anecdote. That it will peak here when the restrictions ease and when tourists are starting to come back, just seems weird timing.

        I get that mandating the boosters would cause another whole set of problems (of all kinds), but if the govt is now saying that the mandates were only for delta, why remove them now instead of earlier?

  7. Reality 7

    Tsmithfield – not yourself obviously, but bear in mind some people wish to be well informed and to recall the history of Covid in New Zealand given its changing and ongoing impact on our lives.

    As you don't care for "diatribes", guess you switch off from Luxon repeating himself constantly on every radio/tv channel.

    I doubt Luxon would be verbally nimble enough to sustain a multiplicity of policy issues and questions being randomly thrown at him as our PM has done on many many occasions.

    • Maybe it is just because I am from a business background, and we have more important things to do than listen to the past continually being regurgitated, especially when it is something we are all aware of anyway.

      I had something else I needed to do, but I had to sit there and listen to another repitition before she got to the important stuff.

      It takes an “adernity” as Seymour calls it.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 7.1.1

        Luxon on confusion (‘Luxfusion’ from the Nats current con artist in chief).

        "Ah, we can manage that with simpler set of rules rather than the confusion of the traffic light system.

        Christopher Luxon says the government has finally woken up to the reality of the threat posed by Omicron…

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/digital_bulletin/story/2018835379/latest-rnz-news-bulletin [@ 2:00 minutes]

        God help National if Luxon thinks the traffic light system is confusing, and God defend NZ if NAct gets behind the wheel.

        • Incognito 7.1.1.1

          Typical red light runner. Sorry, Mr Officer, it’s just too confusing for me.

      • Incognito 7.1.2

        You “had to sit there and listen”? Handcuffs or a gun to your head?

      • KJT 7.1.3

        The irony of right whingers simultaneously complaining about "being talked to like children" while complaining the traffic light system is "too complicated to understand".

  8. Well for a while I am not going to restaurants or other places that do not keep on having vaccine passes, thankfully the indoor mask wearing mandates have been kept, not sure about physical distancing. I think private venues will keep on maintaining these practices, as they can.

    Like Weka I too am disappointed that the SI is being ignored again. What difference would a couple more weeks make? It seems to be an Auckland focussed reaction as even in parts of the NI we are not through the peak. Of course Queenstown is sorted, with all the 'lovely' overseas tourists coming back, so perhaps that is the only place that matters in the SI.

    I feel Govt is becoming rattled by the incessant braying of drongos and is not paying as much attention to the health side as to the political polling side. That is a pity.

  9. ianmac 9

    From this weekend it is no longer necessary to scan in. That's a plus. (Jacinda said that during her briefing)

    • I haven't been scanning for weeks now. What is the point? Contact tracing hasn't been a thing for ages now.

    • Incognito 9.2

      Phew! I will no longer have to carry that damn phone with me around – I’m still not used to it – back to empty pockets again.

  10. SPC 10

    It's a bit of a gamble, the presumption that areas outside of Auckland will have past their peak infection by April 4 – more so that their hospitals will be able to cope (they will still have patients from late March/early April).

    Ending government workplace mandate requirements (excluding health, disability, aged care, corrections and border workforces), or visitor screening, does not preclude the "business" from making its own determinations – some might have more customers if only those boosted were allowed in (were seen as safer place than others). And old age care homes and hospitals will surely still keep out unvaccinated visitors …

  11. mary_a 11

    Now some of the Covid-19 restrictions are about to be lifted, it's up to us to be more responsible in our social and public activities and hope others will do the same. Not too hard to do, considering it's what many have been doing over the past two years.

    At the time of posting, I haven't heard Luxon or Seymore spout any pearls of wisdom yet in response to PM Jacinda Ardern's statement today. Should be interesting what they have to say, considering the contents of the PM's statement are virtually what they have been chirping on about recently!

    • James Simpson 11.1

      I expect them to be gloating. I still have my head in my hands trying to work out why we are now going down the 'let it rip' route.

  12. Reality 12

    Tsmithfield – your parroting Seymour's "adernity" tells us where your sympathies. Really rather a juvenile comment but Seymour in many ways has not matured beyond the level of a 2nd year university student.

    He does however seem like someone who wants total control, given his caucus is not allowed to show their faces or speak in public, apart from one or two. Like the boss of the playground – he who must be obeyed. He also keeps ACT's harsh policies well hidden.

    • Cricklewood 12.1

      C'mon to be fair it's a pretty clever play on words…

      • Belladonna 12.1.1

        Agree. I found it amusing.

        And, given the rampant name-calling of politicians-you-don't-agree-with, present on The Standard, it's a pretty hypocritical complaint.

    • Yeah. I expect even Jacinda would have even got a laugh out of that one.

      I like Jacinda as a person, even though she isn't on my side of the fence politically. I would enjoy having a chat with her if I ever had the chance.

      But I am starting to find her a bit grating with her pressers TBH.

      But that is just me. If you enjoy that sort of presser, then all power to you.

  13. McFlock 13

    On a slightly related note, the removal of many of the mandates suggests that it wasn't all a world government plot for "control", and the remaining squatters around the country can pack up their tents and piss off.

    • Incognito 13.1

      More than 95% have been microchipped and are under control of the mothership.

    • Nic the NZer 13.2

      That happening is weeks away. I mean who is going to explain on telegram that the dooms day predictions didn't work out.

      • Patricia Bremner 13.2.1

        Lol Nic they just shift the date…. 2000, oh… 2008 …. 2022 so it goes.devil

  14. Gypsy 14

    I am aware of a number of cases where 1 or more members of one family group have contracted Covid, but the others remained Covid free 9and tested negative). Can someone answer this – is there a level of natural immunity some people have to Covid?

    • Nic the NZer 14.1

      Yes.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 14.2

      Some 'COVID-naive' immune systems provide better protection, e.g. most infected youngsters don't develop serious symptoms, if any.

      Whereas "natural immunity" is acquired via infection.

      Hybrid Immunity Kept Omicron Deaths Low in Countries Where Millions Aren’t Fully Vaccinated
      [5 March 2022]
      Nations hit hard by last year’s Covid-19 Delta wave acquired high levels of protection through infection
      Natural immunity, which refers to antibodies acquired through infection, was widespread in Indonesia when Omicron arrived. One study from October to December of roughly 20,000 Indonesians found that 74% of unvaccinated Indonesians had protective antibodies, according to Pandu Riono, a University of Indonesia epidemiologist who worked with government researchers on the study.

      Problem is you have to be infected with COVID-19 to acquire natural immunity. Glad I was vaccinated against, rather than by, COVID-19 – not by Omicron and especially not by earlier variants.

      Science 2.0
      Why We Can't Just Let Omicron Spread – Urban Legend That Viruses Evolve Naturally To Be Mild – Need To Control With #DOITALL

      But Omicron is not a vaccine, and letting mild variants of COVID spread without trying to stop them is NOT a safe way to try to end the pandemic and the global public health emergency.

      Even if we knew that Omicron was currently extremely mild for everyone (which it isn't), letting Omicron spread unchecked wouldn't be a safe strategy long term. Dr Tedros of the WHO put it like this in his opening remarks at the special session of the World Health Assembly on 29th November 2021

      The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent.

    • Shanreagh 14.3

      Possibly. Some people may have been more careful than others.

      In our household we made a plan of how to deal with Covid when it came, my flatmate is a nurse. It came 10 days ago. This involved texting each other when we went and returned from the kitchen, wearing best quality masks inside except in our own bedrooms, assigning spaces for each other, using hand sanitiser and wiping benches, light switches etc with disinfectant/sanitiser. I have heard of other flats that adopted this kind of plan and only the one original person got Covid.

      • Gypsy 14.3.1

        So it's acting quick and smart.

      • Belladonna 14.3.2

        I think it depends, too, on the viral load of the original person, and the susceptibility of the rest of the family.
        I know of cases where the whole household was infected – despite high levels of precautions; and others where there were minimal precautions (because 'everyone is going to get it'), and only the original person was infected.

        It's a bit like 'flu (in my own, not-a-medical-professional interpretation) – one person with 'flu in the household, doesn't mean that everyone will get it; but, conversely, there are people who get the 'flu every time.

  15. arkie 15

    And as expected, the business 'community' and their pollies are mostly unhappy with these changes:

    It said these businesses have higher labour costs to police the existing public health measures, and have been among the worst affected by the two-year-long pandemic with no extra support from the government.

    "Businesses are running out of patience."

    It accused the government of haphazard planning, and was unhappy that some changes would not take effect until 4 April.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/463857/businesses-disappointed-with-parts-of-government-s-covid-19-roadmap

    • Shanreagh 15.1

      Good grief…..what Moaning Minnies…..I think they are overplaying their hand.

      Some people are never satisfied.

      I know of many who are not/were not venturing out to restaurants etc no matter how 'open' they are while Omicron is surging, and who are even less likely to now with the vaccine passes going.

      We will probably go to some who maintain the vaccine status for entry.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 15.1.1

        We will probably go to some who maintain the vaccine status for entry.

        Me too, once Omicron subsides locally. You get to know which cafes and restaurants are more rigorous when it comes to safeguarding public health during a pandemic, so why not reward them with custom. After all, if they're a bit slapdash with COVID-19 protocols, just imagine the liberties they might be taking with food hygiene!

      • lprent 15.1.2

        We will probably go to some who maintain the vaccine status for entry.

        That is my preference. If I go at all. For some reason I don’t feel the need to go out and sit inside for food or entertainment. Nor outside if there isn’t enough separation. Nor anywhere that does have a reasonable mask policy.

        It is a minimal precaution, but it seems to be working to date.

  16. tsmithfield 16

    So far as the PM and her waffle is concerned, my wife said John MacDonald on ZB also commented on how long it took her to get to the point.

    What she should do is give the main points first and then go on with more detailed explanation that people can listen to if they want to.

    I think people are getting over all the drama; announcements of announcements, and then slow build-ups as she tantalises people with the prospect of information to come. Perhaps that explains in part why her popularity is dropping.

    At the moment it is like one of those annoying answer messages where they give about 10 options and then at the end say "please hold if you want to speak to the operator".

    • Blazer 16.1

      Is that the same John MacDonald you offered up as a 'left leaning' commentator on ZB ,just a day or two..ago?laugh

      • tsmithfield 16.1.1

        The same one. So, what does it say when even he is getting bored?

        • Blazer 16.1.1.1

          It says he's not left leaning at all…and you are…wrong.

          • tsmithfield 16.1.1.1.1

            That doesn't follow at all. I used to find Bill English incredibly boring, and I am right wing. I don't think "boredom" is a political thing.

            Also, if you are saying that anyone who says anything that contradicts Jacinda in any way can’t be left wing, then read some of the comments here. There are plenty of “left wingers” who disagree with what she has announced today.

            • Blazer 16.1.1.1.1.1

              'Boredom' is not the point.

              MacDonald is in no way…left wing.

              I went and listened to him.

              He is 'in the ZB team'

              • tsmithfield

                Not that I have heard. He constantly has to defend himself for apparently going tough with National MPs he interviews and soft with Labour ones.

                Probably to you Walter Nash would have been right wing. So your opinion of MacDonald doesn't really surprise me.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 16.1.1.2

          I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored!
          Are we there yet?

          Tbh, Luxfusion isn't sparking much joy, but I’ll give him time.

          National leader Christopher Luxon dubs COVID-19 traffic light system 'intellectual complication we don't really need'

          Classic Luxon laugh

          Meanwhile, I must admit to remaining a tad confused by the sudden departure of "big brain" Bridges.

          "He is a really prodigious talent, he's got really complementary skills, he's got a big brain and he does [sic] a great work ethic. So he's going to be taking it to Grant Robertson."

          Classic Luxon laugh

          Bridges’ departure must have been the smart move – any idea what was really going on there? And who's "taking it to Grant Robertson" now? Hope they last longer than the last "big brain".

          "I'm very pleased to announce that Nicola Willis will take on the finance portfolio. Nicola has what I think is a very big brain"

          Classic Luxon laugh

          Hmm, from "a big brain" to "a very big brain" – whatever next? Maybe a chat with Dr Shane is called for – might the Nat’s rampant 'big brainism' be little more than an outbreak of adult-onset hydrocephalus? Time will tell, but one thing's for sure – "big brains" can be a real headache.

          In the flesh, however, Reti, or ‘’Dr Shane’’ as National Party leader Judith Collins has taken to calling him, is enthusiastic, expansive and even a bit manic. He’s got a big brain and wants to do everything. He is a gifted storyteller. And he has obvious ambition to succeed in whatever he turns his mind to.
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122667495/who-is-shane-reti-nationals-new-deputy-leader

  17. georgecom 17

    Seymour was predictable as heck following todays announcement. same old tired lines from him, ones he probably mumbles in his sleep they are so old and tired. He is increasingly looking like the leader of a small political party. I fast forward through anything he has to say now, nothing added by him to any of the debates

  18. joe90 18

    Wondering how large this nightmare coming down the tracks featured in discussions about lifting restrictions.

    Long Covid could create a generation affected by disability, with people forced out of their homes and work, and some even driven to suicide, a leading expert has warned.

    In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Prof Danny Altmann – an immunologist at Imperial College London – said that the UK’s current approach to Covid fails to take the impact of infections sufficiently seriously, adding that more needs to be done to aid diagnosis and treatment of long Covid.

    “It’s kind of an anathema to me that we’ve kind of thrown in the towel on control of Omicron wave infections and have said ‘it’s endemic, and we don’t care any more, because it’s very benign’,” he said. “It just isn’t. And there are new people joining the long Covid support groups all the time with their disabilities. It’s really not OK, and it’s heartbreaking.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/mar/23/long-covid-could-create-a-generation-affected-by-disability-expert-warns

    • DB Brown 18.1

      Not only that, but reinfection is a very real possibility. If the odds of your getting long covid are 0.25, at 2 infections it becomes a coin toss – 0.5.

      Some studies report long covid symptom occurrence at 0.5. All studies emerging call for more data under urgency as the scope of the problem appears enormous.

      At 0.5 occurrence rate reinfection will almost guarantee you get long covid, except, some will get doubly damaged, while others stay relatively unscathed. For a while…

      One symptom of long covid can be a roughly 7 point decrease in IQ. The virus could sweep through again and again, making people stupider and sicker. Those made stupider could proclaim, publicly "It Is Mild!"

      The idea of this virus thinning the herd as in survival of the fittest is farcical at best. It can lay the fit low, and potentially make morons of their children chipping away at them through time.

      It aint over till it's over. A global effort may be required yet.

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