“Jacinda’s visit to Auckland will be long overdue as the city enters its 12th week of lockdown, and if she sees, hears and feels what I saw last week it will seriously change her perspective,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“For 11 weeks the Prime Minister has been listening to civil servants with secure jobs in Wellington at Alert Level 2, she needs to see how their advice computes to the reality of the people paying the bills.
“Let’s hope the Prime Minister’s visit is about her listening to Aucklanders instead of telling them how successful the Government’s response has been. If she goes with an open mind her leadership of the Government’s COVID response will change.
“No leader who’d seen Auckland retailers putting on brave faces behind the masks would make them wait an extra week so that schools can ‘bed in.’
“There are things you understand looking people in the eye that you don’t get on a zoom screen. People are hurting, don’t have faith in the roadmap to the traffic light system, and want certainty more than anything else.
The Prime Minister will should visit businesses where revenues are down by fifty per cent, minimum. Eighty per cent plus is a common reduction. Few businesses are cashflow positive, instead burning up working capital. People aren’t paying invoices, as confirmed by Xero, others are borrowing from relatives or running it up against their mortgage. All wonder when it ends.
The Prime Minister should visit Auckland hairdressers, who told me that they could raise the mood of this depressed city one cut and one colour at a time –safely. They’ve fully laid out their plans for safe operation with barriers, vaccination policies, PPE and distancing. Their careful plans have no currency in the Government’s schemes. They’re just another close contact business that can’t open, they need to be able to open.
“There are things she’ll learn from chance encounters that you can’t pick up from scheduled meetings. A woman I met on the street didn’t want to talk, then opened up unexpectedly. ‘You see, she said, we had people over for picnics a couple of times, but we can’t be bothered now. There’s nothing to talk about because we’re not doing anything, people are withdrawing into themselves.
“If the Prime Minister saw, heard, and felt what I did, she would be making different decisions. Auckland would be at Stage Two, if not Stage Three, of Alert Level Three. Hospitality and retail could operate with far greater viability and little if any change in public health.
“A Freedom Day of December First would be announced, giving a certain end point for the tired eyes above the mask, and give the remaining unvaccinated folk a clear timeline to get real. I wish her well for her visit."