One has to find entertainment where one can these days, particularly if you want it in real life rather than on-line. Therefore, our friend Mandy’s challenge to take the Pure Bread Dog to another level was too hard to resist. Above we present Mixed Bread Cat. Any people willing to take this challenge further, please send through photographic evidence.
Another reason to want morning entertainment today was in the interests of passing the time until the 1pm Ardern & Bloomfield Show. This show was of particular interest because we finally would get to hear some more detail about what Alert Level 3 might look like in practice. It’s funny, although there was nothing announced that differed from my expectations, I felt a bit depressed by the end of it. Feeling depressed is actually premature, as we don’t even know that we will go into Level 3 next Thursday, still nearly a week away. I could be even more depressed if we don’t. However, sensible or not, that was my overriding sentiment.
For a start, I was unreasonably depressed to have confirmation that Chris is going to have to attack my hair with his clippers. It is obvious that hair dressing is in rather close contact with one’s face. However, as someone was quoted saying on the internet, “Whoever decided that hairdressers are not an essential service and mail order booze is, is clearly a bald alcoholic”. I am not even that vain; I am just a bit scared of Chris with hair clippers! The saving grace is that we still won’t be able to go out much, therefore no-one will see my new hair style until we exit the Level 3 Alert.
Another potentially depressing piece of news is that different regions might be in different Alert Levels. This isn’t too surprising, if there is an area that has community transmission of disease, it wouldn’t make sense to hold the country in stasis while we wait for COVID-19 transmission to drop back in the one location. Queenstown however, has been one of the national hot spots for infection. That wasn’t surprising, given Queenstown was a centre of tourism, where infected people from outside New Zealand were travelling. In particular, Queenstown created the Hereford Breeding Conference COVID-19 cluster – a conference held close to the time of lockdown, Bizarrely, the conference was allowed and chose to take its members on field trips around the country, even though one of the delegates was confirmed ill with COVID-19 (consequently I feel a little ill-disposed towards Hereford breeders and conference organisers at present). Will we be some of the unfortunates who are trapped in Level 4 while everyone else climbs up the ladder to the exalted heights of Level 3?
Of course there was potential good news for many today. The number of employees at work will double, with businesses that can operate in a contact free way being able to recommence activity. This is good news also for those of us who like to do handyperson things and have been missing our access to Mitre 10. People can swim and surf again (about time I say, though there was not universal agreement in the comments on that one). Reinstating construction will be a major step in increasing economic activity. I wonder if it will increase hand tool sales – will builders have to have all their own equipment so they don’t touch the same tools? There will be many similar niggles for all businesses to work through; hopefully the government bureaucracy around it will be easily navigable.
I am sure that lots of people will be excited by the prospect of takeaway food deliveries opening up again (as will the takeaway outlet owners). Many restaurants will be rapidly turning their minds to ways to produce takeaway meals. There will be quite a lot of work out there in businesses developing online presences and payment systems, and hooking up with couriers. Perhaps the pilots who are stacking supermarket shelves will be able to turn their navigation skills to suburban delivery.
For the next 5 days we can all run sweepstakes on whether our respective regions will move to Level 3, and how long Level 3 might last. I will put my stake in the ground and say that the government will propose a 4 week long Level 3 Alert, with a review of progress at 2 weeks.
However, there is an outstanding item on the government’s agenda – app-based contact tracing – that they will presumably need to resolve during Level 3, although the rhetoric over Easter was a requirement for app-based contact tracing to be in place by the end of Level 4. Not to mention that Michael Baker of Otago and Shaun Hendy of Auckland University are pushing the government hard on their lack of clarity around the timeframes currently involved in contact tracing, as a requirement for relaxing the rules.
Will the Prime Minister back track, and let us into Level 3 without an app? Will the government compromise on an app in order to get us out of Level 4? Interestingly, Apple and Google have announced they will work together to facilitate app creation through uniting to provide tracking of cell phones in proximity to one another, across their platforms. This is not about tracing location, only proximity to other people. And, even more interestingly, Apple/Google are intending to implement this in their operating systems and thus be able to notify you directly, even if you haven’t installed a specific app from your public health authority. This could be a big deal. Singapore’s TraceTogether app, rolled out on March 20th, has had less than 20% uptake. This is well less than the 60% uptake estimated for it to be effective. Singapore is a much more compliant country than New Zealand. Contact tracing between people in the operating system…there is still a disturbing Big Brother aspect even without your location being known. This space remains very interesting to watch.