Ryan Bridge: The Govt's COVID-19 messaging is all over the shop - do lockdowns stop when enough Kiwis are vaccinated?

Opinion 14/09/2021

OPINION: The Government's been caught short again - this time, lacking a clear strategy to get us out of dodge. 

On the one hand, they're saving Kiwis' lives. On the other, they're eliminating businesses and harming mental health. 

Like sunbathers on the beach watching a tsunami roll in, we have not yet - 18 months on from the first outbreak - left the comfort of our beach towels on the sand to build a single managed isolation and quarantine facility outside of Auckland.

We still have one of the most exposed populations in the developed world with our slow vaccine rollout - and we have no real certainty of what comes next. 

What happens if this tail drags on, and on, and on, and on?

And if you're sitting at home wondering what you can do about it, the messaging is all over the shop.

First the Prime Minister says your path out of lockdown is to get the jab: "We need to make sure that we have New Zealanders vaccinated in order to make sure that we don't have to use lockdowns as a tool to prevent these large-scale outbreaks that take people's lives."

On the other hand, Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, swoops in to rain on the parade, saying this: "We're looking every day at countries with high vaccination rates that have opened up - they are still having to use restrictions."

So go and get the jab - it will get you out of lockdown - but also don't think getting the jab will stop lockdown, or a future lockdown.

Ummmm... okay? How vague is that? 

It's like the fine print on an insurance policy - vague. It's more vague than knowing who's winning a game of cricket. You walk into the living room, people are watching - "who's winning? Is it the Black Caps?" 

"Well, they're 96 for four in the second over." 

Umm, okay, thanks, that really nails it down. Vague.

That's the problem. We're all stuck in lockdown, businesses are hurting, and there are people writing to this programme asking two things:

1. How many weeks of level 4 would the Government stomach?

2. What percentage of the population vaccinated guarantees no more level 4?

Nobody's saying we've done badly this far - no one wants to see mass deaths in the country - but a plan needs to be tabled.

I can't make those decisions, I don't have any power. But Jacinda Ardern does, and she's on the show this morning. 

By the way, get vaccinated to save yourself and whānau from getting sick thanks to COVID-19.

Ryan Bridge is the host of The AM Show.