October 8, 2020

NEW ZEALAND: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announced Auckland To Join Rest Of NZ At Covid-19 Alert Level 1 At 11.59pm On Wednesday

written by Anna Whyte
Sunday October 4, 2020

"On the basis of the success and effectiveness of our elimination strategy, and on the advice of the Director General of Health, Cabinet has confirmed Auckland will join the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 1 from 11.59pm this Wednesday, the 7th of October."

Ardern said all signs pointed to the previous outbreak being under control, adding there was a 95 per cent probability of the Auckland cluster being eliminated.

"Much was at stake with this resurgence of Covid. It was a test of our plan," she said.

Ardern said many found it harder this time around.

"Despite that, Aucklanders and New Zealanders have stuck to the plan that has worked twice now, and beat the virus again.

"We put our heads down and we got on with it."

Ardern said moving to Level 1 meant there was a risk of complacency, urging people to continue using the Covid-19 tracer app.

"In real life, that complacency means in the event of a future outbreak, we may not be able to contact you as quickly, get you tested or into isolation. As a result, we could possibly see the virus spread further, faster."

She also said the continuation of high rates of testing was also important.

"We all want to avoid more restrictions. To stay at Level 1 relies on all of us continuing to be vigilant and playing our part.

"Keep using the app. If you are even slightly unwell, stay home, call healthline and get a test," she said.

"Avoiding another outbreak relies on each and every one of us."

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland at Victoria University of Wellington said Aucklanders "will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief at today’s announcement".

"However, they should be wary about breathing that sigh of relief too heavily or without a face mask.

"The second bout of community transmission in Auckland may well cement in our minds the need for continued caution and wariness, prompts which are necessary if we are to continue to engage in new behaviours like wearing face-coverings."

The rest of New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1 a fortnight ago, while Auckland has been at Alert Level 2 since September 23.

Prior to that, Auckland was at so-called Alert Level 2.5 since August 30, after moving to Alert Level 3 at the beginning of the August community outbreak.

It has been 10 days without any community cases in New Zealand, after the outbreak that began on August 12.

There was one new case of Covid-19 today, a person in managed isolation who arrived from Hong Kong on Thursday.

Yesterday, Ardern said from the results "that we've had coming through, that things have been tracking as we expected".

"Things with the original cluster have tracked well. We've got day 12 testing that we'd expected off the back of those who were connected to the Christchurch case, so of course some of those may still generate additional cases, keeping in mind they're all still in isolation though.

"But I make no assumptions until we make the decision as a Cabinet, based on the latest advice from the Director-General."

Ardern said the time lag was due to the need for 48 hours to bring any changes into force legally.
Yahoo News
written by Neil Sands 
Wednesday September 16, 2020

New Zealand plunged into recession for the first time in a decade Thursday, as data confirmed a record-breaking economic collapse that forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to defend her pandemic response ahead of next month's general election.

The 12.2 percent contraction in April-June was "by far the largest" since records began, national data agency Stats NZ said, with the country put into a strict lockdown for almost two months and the country's borders closed.

Ardern rejected opposition accusations that the tough measures had pushed the economy "off a cliff", saying the restrictions helped contain the virus, which allowed business to resume far earlier than in many other countries.

The centre-left leader, who will go to the polls re-election on October 17, also pointed out that New Zealand had recorded just 25 Covid-19 deaths, out of a population of five million.

"Success for me is saving people's lives, supporting and saving people's businesses, coming out the other side (of the crisis) faster, quicker and with more activity," she told reporters.

"I back our results."

She said the economic pain of lockdown in the June quarter would be followed by a rebound in July-September, when virus-related restrictions were eased significantly.

Ardern retains a strong lead in opinion polls and is expected to retain office, despite the ugly pre-election economic figures.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said it could have been much worse, with budget papers in May predicting a 23.5 quarterly decline and Treasury forecasting a 16 percent drop just this week.

"There is no way that any political party could claim that there would not have been a recession in New Zealand during this period," he said.

"This is a one-in-100-year global economic shock."

- 'This was traumatic' -

The opposition National Party said the figures showed a change of government was needed because Ardern's administration could not properly manage the economy or the pandemic response.

"It is now official that we are in the deepest recession in living memory and it's proof that New Zealand needs a National-led government now that has a very clear plan," National leader Judith Collins said.

She said New Zealand "compares very unfavorably" with neighboring Australia, which recorded an economic contraction of seven percent in the June quarter after adopting a more flexible approach to lockdowns and border controls.

New Zealand's most recent recession was in 2008-09 and until the first three months of this year it had recorded non-stop quarterly growth since 2010.

The second-quarter decline follows a 1.6-percent contraction in the first three months of 2020, confirming widespread expectations that New Zealand is in recession.

Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said the figures were unprecedented.

"We've never seen anything like this. It was traumatic," he said.

"Service exports were stonewalled, and down 40 percent in the quarter, consumption was down 12 percent, and investment was slashed by 20 percent."

But he said the figure was a one-off that was set to be followed by a growth surge of 10 percent in the September quarter, which would also be a record.

"Businesses and households have clearly adapted to trading in a world with limited face-to-face contract," he said.

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