It’s great to be back at Covid-19 Alert Level 2, with some additional restrictions in Auckland, and to enjoy the fact that we can get around the city and that businesses closed under Level 3 can operate again. We want to see our status return to Level 1 and not bounce back up again, and we all have a role to play in that.
Please use the NZ Covid Tracer App to help with contact tracing. Wash your hands regularly and maintain physical distancing. Wear a mask at all times when using public transport, and I would encourage you to wear one while at Level 2 when you are out in public and in close contact with people. If you have symptoms, get tested immediately and self-isolate.
We will defeat the virus again as we did before, but it requires all of us to play our part. We all have responsibilities to help ensure we don’t spread the virus, particularly to older or more vulnerable people for whom it can be especially dangerous or fatal. Complacency is our enemy. We need to be vigilant to stop the international pandemic devastating our city and country as it has done in many places overseas.
But let’s just pause to acknowledge and celebrate how well we have done as a country compared to many others. In the UK and the US, tens of thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been infected by the virus. Just this week, Nobel prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz singled out New Zealand as the most successful country in the world in responding to Covid-19. He said this of New Zealand: “It’s a country in which competent government relied on science and expertise to make decisions; a country where there is a high level of social solidarity – citizens recognise that their behaviour affects others – and trust, including trust in government.”
High praise for our small country! The recognition we have received worldwide will help us as our economy recovers, with a boost to our reputation as a country that is a good place to visit, study and invest in. However, we still have big challenges ahead. Small businesses and jobs have suffered because of the restrictions that had to be put in place. Maintaining our discipline, getting back to Alert Level 1 and shopping local is the best way we can help.
And with the virus rampant internationally, and infecting New Zealanders returning home, we still have to exercise care and caution in making sure we contain any community transmission of the disease.
Phil Goff, Mayor of Auckland