Pertinacious about sticking with the COVID-zero policy, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is supporting the idea of total elimination of coronavirus before reopening the economy amid risks of being left aloof and cut off from the rest of the world. As only one third of NZ population are double-jabbed, the government is focusing on strict lockdowns, mandatory masks and social distancing norms. Auckland’s lockdown has been extended for another week.
However, NZ’s shambolic policy of economic and international isolation has proven to be disastrous for its economy and labour markets. This is concerning especially when inAustralia lockdowns have done nothing to impact community transmission of the delta variant. Add to it the labour shortage in various economic and agricultural sectors are rampant, and the efficacy of talent and talent sourcing markets are being compromised. Reopening of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble has also been foiled because of the rise in the cases of Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.
Neighbouring countries like Australia have renounced the COVID-zero strategy and have chosen to carry out intensive vaccination programs. There are also plans of reopening the international border by the Australian government in November as soon as 80% of Australians are fully vaccinated.
David Beirman, a senior lecturer in tourism and risk management at the University of Technology Sydney assailed NZ’s persistence on continuing with the COVID-zero strategy and said that the leadership is completely deluded to think that stringent lockdown measures will help in the reduction of cases of Delta variant. He believes that the government should not impose economically and psychologically devastating lockdowns and instead urge people to learn to live with the virus.
Ardern, however, stood by her health advisors who still were angling for the policy of eradicating the virus completely.
But this method has been proven to be inadequate in dealing with the fury of the Delta variant as 33 new cases emerged in the country. She defended the government's strategy by saying that it has helped in keeping the latest outbreak under control. Meanwhile, the economy and talent market struggles.
To ramp up its inoculation initiatives, NZ has bought 500,000 doses of Pfizer from Denmark to increase its vaccination rates.