The Government’s decision to loosen of the stays that have girdled NZ on and off for the past two years is welcome news. The limits on outdoor gatherings have gone and from next Monday (April 4), we can put our vaccine passes away in a safe place at home. There are, of course, some lingering reminders that we are not out of the Omicron woods yet – face mask rules remain the same and there are still limits on indoor gatherings.
No doubt there will be much reflection on the past two years as we move further away from the epicentre. There have been many social and financial consequences – individually and as a nation. We have made changes to the way we work, play and interact with one another, and it remains to be seen how permanent some of these changes will be. After all, many have discovered that working from home provides a better work/life balance and will be reluctant to return to the grind of a five-day week spent entirely in the office.
But for now, let’s enjoy this gradual move back to what we call might call “normal” as we change gear and learn to live with the virus, in the hope that no new variant comes along. There are many who deserve our thanks – with the nation’s army of health workers at the top of the list. They have, and continue to, put themselves at risk to care for others and one can only imagine the heavy toll it must be taking on their own health and emotional wellbeing, as well as their families.
And perhaps it is also time to acknowledge the immense effort that people such as the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Director General of Health Ashely Bloomfield, Covid Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, in particular, have made to keep the waka steady in these stormy seas. The “go early, go hard” response saved lives, the vaccination rollout – while not perfect – worked and the financial assistance handed out saved jobs and businesses.
It is easy to criticise and blame, and to pontificate on all the ways things could have been done better, when you can’t be held accountable. No country or economy in the world has been left unscathed by the pandemic. NZ’s performance stands out as one of the best.
Finally, you may notice this paper looks a little different. Like every other business, Mahurangi Matters has been affected by supply chain and other Covid-related issues. We are working hard to get a newspaper out to you despite these challenges. Thank you for your understanding.