ANALYSIS: Today at 10am, New Zealanders will find out exactly what this nations post-vaccinated world will look like and when it is likely to arrive.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, joined by ministers Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Peeni Henare, will today unveil the next steps in opening up a society now divided by lockdowns and hemmed in by internal boundaries.
A couple of weeks ago, Stuff broke the news that the Government was considering a traffic-light system to replace the alert level system when vaccination levels got high enough. The Prime Minister on Monday confirmed that some form of that system would be introduced. There has been some blowback from both experts and Mori groups during consultation on the plan.
Todays announcement is also expected to outline the broader regulatory architecture that will accompany a post-alert level New Zealand.
PM Jacinda Ardern is about to unveil the next steps the nation will take in regards to the pandemic.
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Any move to the new system will not occur until the target vaccination rate, which will be set today, is reached.
But the headline rate itself may not be the only metric. The Government has been under significant pressure to ensure that the Mori vaccination rate in particular as well as rates in other specific communities also hit a high level before restrictions are eased.
This is a big moment as the Government, which has received plaudits for its elimination approach, now officially prepares to step away from it. It has been trying to prepare the public for this significant shift for several weeks now, with mixed success.
Covid-19 is here to stay, and it will be tolerated at some level in New Zealand. For a country used to dealing with Covid case numbers as the metric that mattered under elimination, there will now be a shift towards numbers about hospitalisation and serious illness.
This is not a matter of wishing for a different future, or letting the virus in. It is here. Today is about dealing with the reality.
It is also expected that the Government will unveil the rules around vaccine certificates, how they are used and the surrounding rules for businesses. This will be a key part of the picture of how large events and places with a lot of people can be managed.
That will also make today the day that the unvaccinated part of the population will learn just how much more restricted everyday life will be them. The announcement almost a fortnight ago that health workers and teachers would have to be vaccinated was just the beginning.
There is also expected to be an economic component to the announcements made today, with Finance Minister Grant Robertson expected to release a new business support and recovery package for Auckland in particular.
The announcement comes as Auckland languishes under level 3 restrictions.
Announcements on the future on MIQ are not expected today, but Hipkins has signalled that changes will be announced early next week.
Today must be all about certainty or at least as much certainty as the Government can give in this Covid era. It will also be about giving a national goal that has to be reached before life as sort of normal resumes.
This change has been coming for some weeks, and now we will see what it looks like. The PM and senior ministers have known this day would come.
It is time for the Government to deliver concrete policies and targets. Anything less at this point will likely be judged a failure.
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