By: Jamie Strange
As I write this, New Zealand has been in lockdown for 22 days. Over that time, what NZers have done is nothing short of incredible.
In the face of the greatest threat to human health our country has faced in over a century, Kiwis have quietly built a nationwide wall of defence.
For all the powers the Government has had, you held the greatest power of all. You made the decision that together, you could protect each other – and remained within your bubbles.
My bubble consists of my wife Angela, our four children, and three cats. Angela and I have been working from home, while doing our best to support our children in their learning. As well as school work, we have been focusing on imparting various life skills such as cooking, gardening and physical activity.
Our six-year-old daughter had chicken pox in the first week, and our 12-year-old son had his birthday in week two. Now, in week three, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those working in essential services across our country. The work you are doing to keep our country running is inspiring – we honour and value you.
The vast majority of NZers have respected the need and rules for the lockdown, and (y)our efforts and sacrifices are beating the virus. We are breaking the chain of transmission.
But I know that battling this global pandemic has come at a great cost to all NZers. I’m acutely aware of the pain many of you are feeling.
I have read messages from people who lost loved ones they couldn’t grieve for them. I’ve heard from new parents whose most joyful time has been made difficult. I’ve heard from businesses concerned about their future, and families worried for their livelihoods.
“The fight against Covid-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. So far, New Zealand is running a great race…” says Labour List MP, Jamie Strange
Well over a million of our fellow citizens are now supported by a wage subsidy, but many will already be experiencing a sharp drop in income. Many businesses report they may not be able to re-open at the end of the lockdown period.
I want to assure the Govt will continue to stand alongside you. We’ve already made record investments to keep as many businesses as possible afloat, and as many people as possible in jobs. We are doing what we can to cushion the blow and plan for our recovery.
But this is going to be a marathon. Our plan for this marathon is to ultimately eliminate the virus from New Zealand. That’s also the very best thing we can do for our economy – our best economic response continues to be a strong health response.
When influenza swept the world in 1918, causing the death of 60 million people, those countries that went hard early, recovered quicker economically. This is a model we will be following.
As an island nation we have a real advantage in our efforts to eliminate the virus, but our borders remain our biggest risk and recently instituted mandatory 14-day quarantine or managed self-isolation is a step in that direction.
You may have heard Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern say that we don’t want to stay in lockdown a moment longer than we have to.
Like you, I’m looking forward to stepping back down through the alert levels as our efforts to unite against COVID-19 continue to succeed.
But, like you, I’m under no illusions that alert level 3, and even alert level 2, will be easy. They’ll still involve significant challenges and sacrifices for all NZers.
The fight against Covid-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. So far, New Zealand is running a great race, and I’m confident we’ll continue to do right by each other as we unite against the virus.
Once again, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you’re doing to defeat COVID-19 and save lives. We’re making good progress, and now we just need to stick at it.
Thank you, and keep it up.
Jamie Strange, Labour List MP based in Hamilton
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