Duncan Garner: Extending COVID-19 lockdown is laudable and ambitious - but at what cost?

Opinion 21/04/2020

OPINION: By Duncan Garner, host of The AM Show.

I was disappointed with Monday's decision to keep us locked down for longer.

Although, not surprised.

But my heart sank into my shoes.

Although, I must admit - a lot of my reaction is personal, and perhaps selfish.

I want to see my boy again...

I was desperately hoping we'd leave level 4 on Wednesday night, because like many of you in a similar situation, I want to see my young bloke again properly.

Hug him, kiss him, get his haircut, pick him up from school, help coach the league team, ask him how his day was, hit the tackling bag.

Suddenly, I want to hear the constant demands again.

So I've now resorted to meals on wheels, dropping dinners off to him at his mum's house as a way of seeing him from a distance.

It might be more painful, but I'm trying everything.

But I do understand that our health is the most important thing.

It's clear the Prime Minister wants to get to zero new cases.

It's laudable, it's ambitious and all that - but at what cost?

Australia has achieved what we have with a far less stringent approach.

So did we go too far?

Did we kill businesses and crush jobs unnecessarily? Watch this space.

But, and here's where my argument struggles - a return to level 4 must not happen.

So, the Prime Minister's way is likely to be more popular than my renegade, higher-risk approach.

But I've also based my view on the medical facts.

Just three patients are in ICU.

We have one of the lowest person to person transmission rates in the world.

We have no undetected community transmission.

Yet we extend this lockdown?

I suppose it's an insurance policy,  but by the end of level 3, New Zealand will have been more or less locked down for 47 days.

Here's the bit I simply don't understand and really struggle to accept: if the supermarkets can open, and do it well, at level 4 - then why on earth can't places like Mitre 10 and Placemakers open in level 3?

They've seen how it's done and they're just basically supermarkets with other things.

I think this is tunnel vision.

Schools can open? But not these massive, spread out, big box hardware stores?

It's well past time this Government trusted and rewarded hard-working New Zealand businesses.