New Zealand’s successful Covid policies hid inequality – the government can’t ignore it this year | Morgan Godfery
In 2022 Jacinda Ardern must act on runaway house prices while the central bank should grab inflation by the neck
March 2020 seems like an age ago. And also like it was yesterday. The month begun more or less like any other March in New Zealand. The weather was typically warm and dry, most people were back in the office or on site, and parliament was sitting after its generous summer recess. In most respects you could mistake March 2020 for March 2019. Except, on 4 March, the country recorded its second coronavirus case after a woman returning from northern Italy, where this strange virus had taken hold, presented with the infection at the border. The number of infections increased again and again as the month unfolded with 647 come 1 April.
In the early days of March, government advisers and prime minister Jacinda Ardern were aiming, like the rest of the world, for either “herd immunity” or “flattening the curve”. But when the government’s chief science adviser presented advice on precisely what this meant for the health system – a quick collapse, essentially – Ardern went for the approach her advisers at the universities of Otago and Auckland were advocating: elimination. On 25 March the prime minister made her way to parliament’s debating chamber and in a historic speech announced a national state of emergency and a move to an alert level 4 lockdown. The speech helped generate unprecedented national solidarity.