Everyone has an opinion on what should happen with the thousands of people trying to get back into the country so I feel like I should try and summarise some of these ideas.
The first school of thought is the ‘Spurned Lover’ category. If you fall into this group you feel betrayed by these people leaving the country in the first place. It hurts.
New Zealand was a lovely place before all of this pandemic stuff. We were kind and pretty but you left and now, here you are, wanting to come back.
However, I have a more Mother of Dragons approach – even though they spread their wings and flew away to conquer far off places, they are still children of New Zealand.
And you don’t abandon your children, regardless of whether they were born here or adopted. These are the adventurous ones, the free spirits – the ones who don’t like being caged. And anyway – they often have Euros and US dollars which we can pilfer for our own economy.
New Zealand citizens are just that – citizens and you can’t legally or ethically deny them the right to return to their own country.
You can halt flights into the country though, which is what happened this week with the government directing Air NZ to temporarily cancel bookings to ease the burden on our borders.
Literally thousands of people are streaming back through the international terminals and then off to quarantine hotels for 14 days of reading books and making boring YouTube videos.
What is really grinding people’s gears is the absconders and the rule breakers. Keeping the disease out of New Zealand is vital if we want to avoid the iron fist of government shutting down the whole country again.
However, what we seem to have is a soft, fluffy sheepskin mitten to keep law and order amongst the refugees flooding back through the gates. The army is patrolling the quarantine facilities but the runners aren’t being pelted with rubber bullets. Shameful.
Therefore, I have a few suggestions.
Send everyone to Rarotonga.
I can only imagine how quiet that place is right now with no tourists pouring in to ward off the winter chills. Great big resorts with no-one in them. Confused tropical fish wondering where all the big pale things with flipper feet have gone.
Once you have proved you are covid-free you can board the recently disinfected, disease-free plane and return to the crisp, pure air of New Zealand, start a business and live happily ever after.
Now, there is a possibility the Cook Islands don’t want thousands of potentially diseased people flooding their slice of paradise. There is only one, fairly modest hospital, and life is pretty chilled unless you have to pay the bills on a large, empty resort.
So, my second option is to legalise cannabis. This may sound a bit left-field but I actually got this idea from former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who said the following this week….
“For me, it’s just a no-brainer to stop wasting our taxpayers’ money with police helicopters hovering over the Kiwi bush, hounding down ordinary citizens who are having a joint of cannabis rather than a glass of wine, hunting down the Kiwis who are desperate for some kind of relief for a medical condition. Let’s stop all that... let’s put it into something better.” – Helen Clark.
We could be using these resources to hover over and hound ordinary Kiwi citizens who are returning through the border, looking for relief.
None of this gentle, caring nonsense, it’s off to the Covid camps you go. Big fences, helicopters and armed guards and a choice of wine or cannabis to pacify them.
Both of these solutions clearly solve the desire and the ability to abscond from isolation but, I suspect, they will be far too draconian for our leaders to contemplate.
Half the problem is that we tend to move on from disaster relatively quickly. I mean how many people had a well-stocked disaster preparedness kit when all this struck? How many people have one now?
We can’t have the current Government hogging the limelight in the lead-up to the election but those 1pm updates were compelling viewing over the more severe lock-down stages, at least for the first 90 seconds.
They should be reinstated with a 1pm slot featuring nothing but amateur lockdown videos from countries that are still suffering under government-imposed controls. That will sharpen the minds and remove complacency.
Because it only takes one case and we are back where we started.