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Starting out red, as vax effort continues


As expected, our region will enter the traffic light Covid-19 protection framework on Friday in the highest red setting because of our relatively low vaccination rate and vulnerable communities. A swathe of the central North Island and Northland are in the same waka, along with Auckland — which is at red because it is the epicentre of the Delta outbreak, and due to the pressures on its hospitals and Covid response systems.

The red setting will be a lot like Alert Level 2, we’re told — apart from a 100-person gathering limit and with the addition of vaccine passes . . . and as long as you are fully vaccinated.

For the unvaccinated, it has been said that both red and orange might feel like a Level 3 lockdown. In confirming the move into the new system later this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday said that, yes, life would be restricted for unvaccinated people but this was the best way they could be protected.

Opposition parties are questioning the rationale for how settings have been applied, such as why parts of the South Island and Wellington with high vaccination rates and no cases did not go straight to green, and have no prospect of doing so until after the summer holiday.

The rationale is an overarching caution as we transition to the new framework. Vaccinated Aucklanders cannot travel for another two weeks, holding back the inevitable spread of the virus around the country — when it will, also inevitably, find and infect those who are unvaccinated. Maintaining the Auckland border — the only one in the country — and the red settings for some regions buys precious time in the effort to keep raising vaccination rates.

The settings will be reviewed again on December 13, after which they will be held for a month over the holiday period. The next review on January 17 will be the start of fortnightly reviews, informed by the spread of Covid-19 and how regions and their hospitals are coping.

Rhythm and Vines organisers have been counting on Tairawhiti hiking its vaccination rate enough to earn orange status at the forecast mid-December review — with the Government’s transition support for 90 percent of upfront costs for big festivals, announced three weeks ago, providing some certainty that they can proceed despite the risks.

The social licence to operate this summer in a region with vulnerable communities might not have been front of mind, but certainly is now after a meeting with Tairawhiti iwi leaders on Friday, and their call yesterday for a cancellation.

  1. Peter Jones says:

    Hi Jeremy, thank you for outlining what those of us who have chosen to be unvaxxed might feel.
    I can only speak for myself.
    It definitely does not feel like a level 3 lockdown to me.
    It feels like I have been ostracised from society.
    I am truly wondering if I am going to make it through next week without getting arrested.
    I have chosen to call foul play by government and now that I have no passport, why should I wear a mask or queue up to go to the shop?
    I may as well just front up and refuse to leave until the shop owner serves me or calls the police.
    How many times are the police going to have to come and sort me out before they get sick of it?
    We all know that covid is a crock including the boys in blue.
    How many jabberwockies do you expect to take a booster jab for delta and then another one for omicron and so forth?
    This is a matter of principle here and I am resigned to spending some time in the old cell block to do my bit towards putting an end to this ridiculous nonsense.

  2. Peter Jones says:

    Stay back, I’m not vaxxed. LOL.
    They will soon get sick of that.

    1. Perry Anderson says:

      I’ve had corona six times and it always tastes better with a little lime, cheers

  3. Tam Teota says:

    Excellent, am pleased the PM has confirmed: “that, yes, life would be restricted for unvaccinated people but this was the best way they could be protected”. Yes, protected from those vaccinated persons coming into the region, who might unknowingly infect/transmit the virus, and since they will be coming in to “inevitably, find and infect those who are unvaccinated”. So, a big thanks to you for confirming that the virus could be travelling here, inside vaccinated hosts, who may not be showing symptoms, so won’t know they are infected. Remember: the My Vaccine Pass confirms people have had 2 doses, not that they don’t have covid…. And thank you for confirming that R and V had been counting on Tairawhiti to increase their vaccination rates, to run the festival, under Orange, rather than it was best for our residents’ health. Tairawhiti residents are quite strategic with their thinking – most want to “protect their whanau”, and “protect their whakapapa” from covid coming in to a City that has no cases… Cheers