I write this at a time when there are no active cases of COVID-19 remaining in New Zealand, and we have just moved to Alert Level 1 – as normal as life can be in the time of a global pandemic.
Stamping out the virus here was only possible because every New Zealander stepped up. Going hard and early required great sacrifice, and tragically some lives were lost. But now I think our team of five million can reflect on a pretty big milestone.
At a time when other countries are still reporting tens of thousands of new cases and hundreds of COVID-related deaths each day, New Zealand has just become COVID-free.
We can’t take this position for granted, as there could still be undetected cases in our communities, and there are still New Zealanders returning home from overseas. But I think we can all be very proud of what we’ve achieved, and rightly enjoy our new freedoms.
None of this happened by accident. It’s all part of the Government’s three-step plan to guide New Zealand through the global economic shock caused by COVID-19: respond, recover, and rebuild better.
The path ahead is still challenging, but I know the Government will guide us through this global economic shock with the same determination and focus it did through the outbreak. And for now our team of five million can reflect on a pretty big milestone.
It is also a milestone that saw our Prime Minister visit the Bay of Plenty yesterday on the first day at level 1, with a focus on the kiwifruit industry and the mobilisation of workforce from other sectors into the primary sector, as well as trade training apprenticeship opportunities with local business. The Prime Minister also had the opportunity to visit and support local small business The Daily Café in Te Puke then ended her day here meeting with the regional Mayors and Chief Executives of the respective councils who have a number of shovel ready infrastructure projects lined up for consideration.