Initial Green Party list lacks gender, climate balance

Stuff have reported Green Party initial election list puts newcomer Teanau Tuiono ahead of several sitting MPs

An initial list for the Green Party puts activist Teanau Tuiono ahead of several sitting MPs in the party.

The Green Party list will dictate which of their MPs enter Parliament after the next election, should they win over five per cent of the vote.

The ranking of the list is voted on by members in two different stages – first by delegates at a conference for an initial list and then by all 7000 or so Green Party members closer to the election.

Tuiono was 16th on the Green list last election.

Due to two late withdrawals of male MPs from the list just before the last election the Greens have ended up with 2 male and six female MPs, and one of the males, Gareth Hughes, isn’t standing again. The try to have a balanced list, so they presumably have to have male candidates higher on the list than female MPs.

Tuiono is a veteran activist and education consultant who has worked at the United Nations and Massey University.

The initial list swaps the order of the co-leaders but this is likely to be a Greens having turns thing but also probably means a ministerial role for Davidson if they get back into Government with Labour.

  1. Marama Davidson
  2. James  Shaw
  3. Jan Logie
  4. Eugenie Sage
  5. Teanau Tuiono
  6. Julie Anne Genter
  7. Chlöe Swarbrick
  8. Golriz Ghahraman
  9. Elizabeth Kerekere (Tīwhanawhana Trust chair)
  10. Ricardo Menéndez March (Auckland Action Against Poverty activist)

Voted on be delegates, this is still gender unbalanced with only 2 the top 9 male. If Greens get the minimum MPs that’s 2 of 6.

With Hughes dropping out it also looks like more of a move towards social activism with less expertise in climate activism.

The final list could address this.


Covid update Friday – second death, more recoveries than new cases

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay:

The second death reported today, a woman in her 90s who has been in Burwood Hospital. She was one of twenty people transferred from a rest home earlier in the week. Family weren’t able to be with the woman in hospital because of the lockdown.

So the total deaths are now 2.

44 new cases today (23 confirmed and 21 probable) bringing the total cases to 1283.

14 new cases are linked to existing clusters.

373 now recovered (+56)

16 in hospital, 4 in Intensive care (2 critical)

That’s a few more cases than yesterday but it was expected that totals would fluctuate.

The highest number of tests yesterday not resulting in significantly more cases – a good sign.

As at 9am, 10 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,015 23
Number of probable cases 268 21
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,283 44
Number of cases in hospital 16 2
Number of recovered cases 373 56
Number of deaths 2 1

View details of confirmed and probable cases.

View details of significant COVID-19 clusters.

View testing data by region.

In the south of the South Island, the police say hundreds of vehicles were stopped at 10 checkpoints yesterday, but only a handful were breaching the lockdown. Most drivers were either essential workers or heading to the supermarket.

Taxpayers’ Union – Government subsidy more pressing than ideological purity

This is an interesting decision from the Taxpayers’ Union:  Statement On COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

As confirmed by the Government today, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is one of the many employers that have accepted the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy. This decision was made on the basis of our ethical obligations to staff during the government-mandated economic shutdown.

The decision to accept this subsidy was not as simple for us as for most organisations. Prior to COVID-19, we have stated on the record that we would never accept taxpayer funding. That commitment was, of course, made in a time few New Zealanders could possibly have anticipated COVID-19 and the ensuing economic situation.

After brief deliberation, the Taxpayers’ Union board determined the welfare of our employees to be a more pressing immediate concern than ideological purity.

Moreover, we support the Government’s strategy helping employers through the current crisis and we have not criticised any employer for taking this subsidy. It is important to distinguish between targeted corporate welfare, which we oppose, and across-the-board compensation for the effects of a government-mandated economic shutdown.

They are presumably as entitled to claim the subsidy as any other employer affected by the lockdown.

But they are using the wage subsidy so they can keep holding the Government to account and “to expose excessive and wasteful government spending”.

What do people do on Easter Friday?

I remember Easter Friday as the most closed, nothing to do days of the year.

When I was young and boarding in Dunedin, we were asked to leave for Easter because owners wanted to borer bomb the house (I was actually boarding in the house that featured in the movie Scarfies, but that was filmed after my time there).

So I took my sleeping bag and went to work and slept on the floor. On Easter Friday there was nothing open and nothing to do (I didn’t think of trying a church). No TV, no radio, no newspaper – that was probably the quietest day of my life.

When I got married and had a family we often went ‘home’ to spend Easter with my father in Lowburn, Central Otago. Easter was great there in the country with no town lights, but usually clear nights just after a full moon as you always have at Easter so it was quite light with a bright moon.

I experienced similar last night at home, but I won’t be going anywhere this Easter. It will be much the same as last weekend and the weekend before, except with a few extra days away from my work at home desk.

We’ve got some chocolate stuff and will scoff that. I’ve never known whether the tradition was to eat Easter eggs on Easter Friday or Sunday, but Friday seems good enough. I’ve got plenty to do outside to work off the calories.

Some time over the weekend I’ll watch Jesus Christ Superstar, I like the music and it’s an interesting telling of a story cobbled together from very sketchy history. I learnt more about Jesus history from this musical than from any church or Sunday School growing up (I went for a while but thought the stories were boring).

The weather looks like being great for today and tomorrow so there’s a lot of work I can do outside, continuing the Covid enabled catch up of things I have been meaning to do plus some new projects.

Those who like to do the Church thing on Easter Fridays may be finding out how quiet the day used to be for others, no shops open, no cafes or bars, the deadest day of they year and not just for Jesus.

However you do your Easter Friday I hope you have a good day.

Covid-19 cases, tests and deaths (per million)

Total Covid-19 cases, tests and deaths to date ordered by deaths per million of population
As at 9 April 2020 8pm GMT
– note that these totals are changing quickly

Total Tot Cases/ Total Tests/ Total Deaths/
Country Cases 1M pop Tests 1M pop Deaths 1M pop
World 1,582,135 203 94,573 12.1
San Marino 308 9,077 722 21,278 34 1,002
Spain 152,446 3,261 355,000 7,593 15,238 326
Andorra 583 7,545 1,673 21,653 25 324
Italy 143,626 2,375 853,369 14,114 18,279 302
Belgium 24,983 2,156 84,248 7,269 2,523 218
France 117,749 1,804 224,254 3,436 12,210 187
Netherlands 21,762 1,270 101,534 5,926 2,396 140
Sint Maarten 43 1,003 112 2,612 6 140
UK 65,077 959 298,169 4,392 7,978 118
Switzerland 24,046 2,778 178,500 20,625 948 110
Luxembourg 3,115 4,976 27,521 43,965 52 83
Sweden 9,141 905 54,700 5,416 793 79
Ireland 6,574 1,331 53,000 10,734 263 53
Saint Martin 32 828 2 52
USA 455,454 1,376 2,309,686 6,978 16,114 49
Iran 66,220 788 231,393 2,755 4,110 49
Bermuda 39 626 315 5,058 3 48
Channel Islands 361 2,076 1,157 6,655 8 46
Denmark 5,635 973 64,002 11,050 237 41
Portugal 13,956 1,369 140,368 13,766 409 40
Austria 13,237 1,470 126,287 14,022 295 33
Germany 115,523 1,379 1,317,887 15,730 2,451 29
Liechtenstein 78 2,046 900 23,605 1 26
Turks and Caicos 8 207 61 1,576 1 26
Monaco 84 2,141 1 25
Slovenia 1,124 541 31,813 15,303 43 21
Norway 6,160 1,136 121,034 22,326 108 20
Guadeloupe 141 352 8 20
Antigua and Barbuda 19 194 40 408 2 20
Iceland 1,648 4,829 32,663 95,718 6 18
Estonia 1,207 910 26,416 19,914 24 18
Bahamas 40 102 7 18
Martinique 154 410 6 16
Ecuador 4,965 281 19,102 1,083 272 15
Panama 2,528 586 11,776 2,729 63 15
Cayman Islands 45 685 479 7,288 1 15
North Macedonia 663 318 6,571 3,154 30 14
Canada 20,690 548 370,315 9,812 503 13
Romania 5,202 270 51,802 2,693 248 13
Isle of Man 190 2,234 1,879 22,097 1 12
Turkey 42,282 501 276,338 3,277 908 11
Dominican Republic 2,349 217 7,151 659 118 11
Bosnia and Herzegovina 858 262 6,911 2,106 35 11
Israel 9,968 1,152 117,339 13,557 86 10
Czechia 5,467 511 106,845 9,977 112 10
Barbados 63 219 655 2,279 3 10
Serbia 2,867 328 12,347 1,413 66 8
Finland 2,605 470 39,000 7,039 42 8
Greece 1,955 188 33,634 3,227 87 8
Cyprus 564 467 14,273 11,822 10 8
Albania 409 142 3,223 1,120 23 8
Guyana 37 47 145 184 6 8
Moldova 1,289 320 5,108 1,266 29 7
Hungary 980 101 27,826 2,880 66 7
Mayotte 184 674 1,100 4,032 2 7
Lithuania 955 351 32,809 12,052 16 6
Mauritius 314 247 6,730 5,292 7 6
Trinidad and Tobago 109 78 987 705 8 6
Curaçao 14 85 1 6
Poland 5,575 147 107,597 2,843 174 5
Algeria 1,666 38 3,359 77 235 5
Croatia 1,407 343 13,680 3,332 20 5
Malta 337 763 13,732 31,100 2 5
Brazil 16,474 78 63,000 296 839 4
S. Korea 10,423 203 477,304 9,310 204 4
Peru 4,342 132 39,599 1,201 138 4
Chile 5,972 312 68,353 3,576 57 3
Morocco 1,374 37 6,116 166 97 3
Armenia 921 311 5,823 1,965 10 3
Bahrain 887 521 55,096 32,379 5 3
Bulgaria 618 89 15,899 2,288 24 3
Lebanon 582 85 12,524 1,835 19 3
Montenegro 252 401 2,329 3,708 2 3
Belize 9 23 364 915 1 3
China 81,865 57 3,335 2
Australia 6,104 239 330,134 12,946 51 2
Malaysia 4,228 131 63,367 1,958 67 2
Philippines 4,076 37 24,500 224 203 2
Qatar 2,376 825 43,144 14,975 6 2
Argentina 1,795 40 14,850 329 71 2
Belarus 1,486 157 49,000 5,186 16 2
Iraq 1,232 31 30,466 757 69 2
Tunisia 643 54 9,570 810 25 2
Latvia 589 312 25,458 13,497 3 2
Uruguay 456 131 6,175 1,778 7 2
Honduras 343 35 23 2
Bolivia 264 23 591 51 18 2
Brunei 135 309 8,985 20,538 1 2
Suriname 10 17 1 2
Cabo Verde 7 13 1 2
Indonesia 3,293 12 14,354 52 280 1
Saudi Arabia 3,287 94 44 1
Mexico 3,181 25 25,410 197 174 1
UAE 2,659 269 593,095 59,967 12 1
Colombia 2,054 40 33,575 660 55 1
Singapore 1,910 326 65,000 11,110 6 1
Ukraine 1,892 43 20,608 471 57 1
Egypt 1,560 15 25,000 244 103 1
Cuba 515 45 9,410 831 15 1
Burkina Faso 443 21 24 1
Jamaica 63 21 907 306 4 1
Azerbaijan 926 91 57,371 5,658 9 0.9
Congo 60 11 5 0.9
Georgia 218 55 3,271 820 3 0.8
El Salvador 103 16 5 0.8
Liberia 31 6 4 0.8
Japan 4,667 37 61,498 486 94 0.7
Jordan 372 36 17,000 1,666 7 0.7
Paraguay 124 17 2,039 286 5 0.7
Costa Rica 502 99 6,035 1,185 3 0.6
Oman 457 89 3 0.6
Kyrgyzstan 280 43 9,618 1,474 4 0.6
Russia 10,131 69 1,004,719 6,885 76 0.5
Thailand 2,423 35 71,860 1,030 32 0.5
Hong Kong 974 130 96,709 12,900 4 0.5
Niger 342 14 4,199 173 11 0.5
Kazakhstan 764 41 59,371 3,162 7 0.4
Cameroon 730 27 10 0.4
Slovakia 701 128 21,371 3,914 2 0.4
Afghanistan 484 12 15 0.4
Togo 73 9 1,747 211 3 0.4
Gabon 34 15 1 0.4
Botswana 13 6 1,154 491 1 0.4
Gambia 4 2 1 0.4
Pakistan 4,489 20 44,896 203 65 0.3
South Africa 1,934 33 63,776 1,075 18 0.3
Sri Lanka 190 9 3,248 152 7 0.3
Venezuela 171 6 139,282 4,898 9 0.3
Mali 74 4 7 0.3
India 6,725 5 177,584 129 226 0.2
New Zealand 1,239 257 51,165 10,610 1 0.2
Kuwait 910 213 1 0.2
Taiwan 380 16 42,315 1,777 5 0.2
Ghana 313 10 6 0.2
Palestine 263 52 16,068 3,150 1 0.2
DRC 180 2 18 0.2
Guatemala 95 5 1,134 63 3 0.2
Haiti 30 3 257 23 2 0.2
Zimbabwe 11 0.7 371 25 3 0.2
Mauritania 7 2 67 14 1 0.2
Nicaragua 7 1 1 0.2
Ivory Coast 384 15 3 0.1
Bangladesh 330 2 6,175 37 21 0.1
Senegal 250 15 2 0.1
Kenya 184 3 5,278 98 7 0.1
Libya 24 3 374 54 1 0.1
Syria 19 1 2 0.1
Uzbekistan 582 17 70,000 2,091 3 0.09
Benin 26 2 1 0.08
Myanmar 23 0.4 1,246 23 3 0.06
Angola 19 0.6 2 0.06
Somalia 12 0.8 1 0.06
Zambia 39 2 1,239 67 1 0.05
Sudan 15 0.3 2 0.05
Malawi 8 0.4 1 0.05
Nigeria 276 1 5,000 24 6 0.03
Ethiopia 56 0.5 2,790 24 2 0.02
Tanzania 25 0.4 1 0.02
Diamond Princess 712 11


New York currently has 360 deaths per million, and neighbouring New Jersey has 191 deaths per million (there’s a lot of people movement between the two states).


The White House versus WHO

It’s not surprising to see Donald Trump blaming others for their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s what he frequently does to divert from his own problems or mistakes. He has taken a swipe at the World Health Organisation and threatened to withdraw US funding, although as is also common with him, soon after that (in the same media conference) he contradicted himself.

Financial Times: Donald Trump threatens to freeze funding for WHO

President Donald Trump threatened to freeze funding for the World Health Organization as he accused the body of withholding information about coronavirus in Wuhan and being “wrong” about the outbreak in China.

Mr Trump said the WHO had “missed the call” when it came to the early detection of the virus in Wuhan and called the organisation very “China-centric”. He also blasted WHO for what he said was criticism of his decision in January to ban flights from China to the US.

“They could have called it months earlier,” Mr Trump said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday. “They would have known and they should have done. And they probably did know, so we’ll be looking into that very carefully. And we’re going to put a hold on money sent to the WHO.”

Mr Trump said he would put a “very powerful hold” on the funding. But when pressed on whether the US should withhold funds during the pandemic, the president softened his threat — one of the many examples of the president contradicting himself during the same press conference. “I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’ll have a look,” Mr Trump said. “You know what, they called it wrong. And if you look back over the years . . . everything seems to be very biased toward China. It’s not right.”

Mr Trump’s criticism reignited a debate about blame for the spread of the disease, which has been contracted by 1.43m people around the world and caused 82,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of US cases has soared to 399,000, with almost 13,000 fatalities.

The WHO in mid-January said there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, even after one of its experts said the opposite. Days later, it pointed to “some limited” direct transmission among humans, as China also confirmed the first cases of human-to-human transmission.

Later in January the WHO described the virus as a global emergency, but recommended that nations keep borders open to reduce the number of people crossing borders in irregular ways that would prevent health checks. Later that day Mr Trump banned most travel from China.

Mr Trump has been criticised for not taking the virus seriously early on, and particularly for saying it would disappear “like a miracle”. Each time he has come under attack, he has touted his move to ban flights from China, and sometimes his later step to expand restrictions to travel from Europe.

“They seem to come down the side of China,” said Mr Trump, who claimed that the WHO missed the early signs despite sending a team to Wuhan. “They didn’t see what was going on in Wuhan . . . How do you not see it?”

Trump’s deputy has also waded in: Pence vows US will ask WHO ‘tough questions’ over how ‘they could have been so wrong’ about coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence told “Hannity” Wednesday night that the U.S. will ask “tough questions” of the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic after the global health agency’s director warned President Trump and other world leaders against “politicizing” the outbreak.

“This is a president who believes in accountability, and the American taxpayers provide tens of millions of dollars to the World Health Organization. And as the president said yesterday, I suspect we will continue to do that, but that doesn’t mean that at the right time in the future we aren’t going to ask the tough questions about how the World Health Organization could have been so wrong.

“Literally at the time President Trump stood up the coronavirus task force in January and suspended all travel from China, just days before that, the World Health Organization was continuing to diminish the threat of the coronavirus and its impact in China. We’ll get to the answers of that and we’ll create accountability, just like the American people would want us to do.”

Note that this is on the president friendly “Hannity” and will be playing to an audience.

WHO deserves some criticism of their handling of the pandemic, but it would have been impossible for them to handle it perfectly.

But the president spraying around blame is likely to be more about diverting from the growing Covid problems in the US (although the worst hot spot, New York, seems to be flattening off now), where things haven’t been handled perfectly either.

There are now over 450,000 confirmed cases in the US and 16,000+ deaths (increasing by close to 2,000 a day).

Over the past week or so about a third of the world increase of cases has been in the US, and about a quarter of deaths.

It is too serious to get distracted by bitching and blaming.

But due to major restrictions on borders and social distancing and a big effort to increase testing and healthcare supplies the modeled scenarios are looking a lot less grim.

NPR: Fauci Says U.S. Coronavirus Deaths May Be ‘More Like 60,000’; Antibody Tests On Way

The U.S. is enduring a “very bad week” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. But he also says that the American public’s embrace of physical separation and other restrictions is sharply reducing projections of the death toll from the respiratory virus.

The final toll currently “looks more like 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000” that U.S. officials previously estimated, Fauci said.

Even earlier warnings were of potentially millions of deaths if nothing was done to limit the spread of the virus, so 60,000 doesn’t look so bad (but is still substantial).

Channel News Asia: WHO urges global unity, defends handling of pandemic after Trump’s criticism

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday (Apr 8) pleaded for global unity in fighting the coronavirus and gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the pandemic, in response to US President Donald Trump’s criticism.

As the WHO prepares to mark 100 days on Thursday since it was first notified of the outbreak in China, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back at accusations that it had been too close to Beijing.

Tedros urged the United States to join with China in combating the disease rather than indulging in a blame game, as he issued a stern defence of the WHO’s management of the pandemic.

“The United States and China should come together and fight this dangerous enemy,” Tedros told a virtual press briefing in Geneva.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus.

“If you want to have many more body bags – then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it.

Tedros also rejected Trump’s suggestion that the WHO was “China-centric”, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”

Citing the death toll and number of infections, Tedros implored: “For God’s sake … is this not enough?”

WHO, Trump and many others are under extreme pressure trying to combat Covid. They all need to work together and cooperate as much as possible regardless of past mistakes or questionable decisions.

Open Forum – Easter Friday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Jacinda Ardern’s statement marking halfway point of lockdown

From the Beehive:

Prime Minister’s remarks halfway through Alert Level 4 lockdown

Today is day 15 of Alert Level 4 lockdown.

And at the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge.

In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence.

You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.

As a Government, we may have had pandemic notices. We may have had powers that come with being in a national emergency. But you held the greatest power of all. You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have.

You have saved lives.

Modelling provided to my office by economist Rodney Jones on the eve of the lockdown suggested New Zealand was on a similar trajectory to potentially Italy and Spain and that our 205 cases on the 25th of March could have grown to over 10,000 by now without the actions we have taken together.

And new modelling due to be released later today by Te Punaha Matatini suggests that the current controls at Alert Level 4 have already had a significant impact on new case numbers and we are on track to meet their most optimistic scenario.

Instead of the horrific scenes we have seen abroad we are at 1239 cases, and the total number of cases has fallen for the last four days with 29 new cases today, the lowest daily number of cases since the 23rd of March, before the lockdown began.

We are turning a corner, and your commitment means our plan is working.

But to succeed, we need it to keep working. Success does not mean we change the course. Removing restrictions now would allow the virus to spread rapidly once again and we would be back to the starting line within two weeks. That’s also why we will keep enforcing the rules. In addition you will have seen an increase in police enforcement in recent days, I expect that to continue, including road blocks in some places this Easter weekend. While most people are doing the right thing, some are not. We cannot let the selfish actions of a few set us back. And we won’t.

Especially after all that everyone has sacrificed to get us here.

I have read messages from those who have lost loved ones they couldn’t come together to grieve for, brand new parents whose most joyful time has been made so difficult because of separation. Businesses who are worried for their livelihoods and for the family that are their employees.

I am acutely aware of the pain many New Zealanders are feeling.

Over 1 million of our fellow citizens are now supported by a wage subsidy, many of whom will be experiencing a cut in income.

At the end of March there were already an extra 4,866 Kiwis on a benefit, and last week that number increased by another 10,000. And many businesses are reporting that they may not be able to re-open at the end of the lockdown period.

I want to give you all the assurance that I can, that the health and wellbeing of you and our communities has always been on our minds as we have made decisions on COVID-19, but so has your livelihoods.

We will continue to stand alongside you.

We have made record investments to keep as many businesses as possible afloat and people in jobs. We are doing what we can to cushion the blow and plan for our recovery.

But as I’ve said, this is going to be a marathon.

Our plan for that marathon, is to keep eliminating the virus from New Zealand. We can do that by keeping it out of the country, but also by rapidly stamping out any outbreaks that flare up. And that plan is the very best thing we can also do for the New Zealand economy.

The best economic response continues to be a strong health response.

That’s why I am announcing the next stage of initiatives to scale up our health response to put us in the best position possible to exit Level 4 and prepare for Level 3.

No matter what level we are at in the future, there are three areas where we need to become water tight.

Firstly, our borders must be tightly managed.

That’s why from midnight tonight every New Zealander boarding a flight to return home will be required to undergo quarantine or what we have called managed isolation in an approved facility for a minimum of 14 days.

I am also signalling that the requirement for 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility, will be a prerequisite for anyone entering the country in order to keep the virus out.

As an island nation we have a distinct advantage in our ability to eliminate the virus, but our borders are also our biggest risk.

The Government has gone harder earlier with border measures compared to other countries, but even one person slipping through the cracks and bringing the virus in can see an explosion in cases as we have observed with some of our bigger clusters.

The quarantining of returning New Zealanders will be a significant undertaking.

For context nearly 40,000 New Zealanders have returned home since the 20th of March, when we closed the border to foreign nationals. That is more than all of the hotel rooms across the country that we could have properly housed people in.

There has always been urgency around this matter, but simply put, we could not have done it from the beginning, but we  can and are doing it now.

A network of up to 18 hotels will be used to implement this approach, of which one to two will be specifically set aside for those under strict quarantine conditions.

The second aspect of our ongoing COVID-19 response is significantly scaled up and faster contact tracing and greater use of technology.

The more we improve the speed and effectiveness of our contact tracing, the better placed we will be in breaking the chain of transmission.

The Ministry of Health is already working on a locally developed app that will assist with contact tracing.

I should caution that it is in the early stages, it will have basic functionality, but even that will be important as it will help update our national health database with users contact details.

Then they will look to add functions. We are investigating the Singaporean Government’s Bluetooth-based app TraceTogether that can record interactions between a phone and any other phones nearby that have the app installed.  It will often pick up phones at a distance so is not perfect.

The data is stored on the phone and if the user tests positive they then release the data to the government for contact tracing. Close contacts can then be automatically notified of their need to self-isolate and be tested.

Singapore are planning to open source their technology in the next few weeks. We have made initial contact with the Singaporean Government and registered our interest, and I have a phone call with Prime Minister Lee of Singapore this evening where I will be discussing this technology further.

I think it’s important to note that these kinds of apps are useful, but don’t solve everything. What’s most important is that you have good people, and enough people, working on contact tracing as quickly as possible. We do, and we continue to improve every day.

And finally, this ongoing plan must be underpinned by testing.

We already have incredibly high rates of testing compared to others, but we want to be even better.

We will be maintaining high levels of testing and supplementing it with additional testing to ensure we have greater levels of certainty around the decline in the viruses’ spread.

With these three pillars, border controls, rigorous testing and contact tracing,  and making sure we use all the technology available we have what we need to win this marathon.

But I know in a race it’s important to have some signposts.  To know where we are, and exactly what we need to do when we get there so we can all plan.

Let me set out the timelines then for some key decisions that will affect everyone.

Level 4 has come with some heavy restrictions. That has required difficult decisions around services and businesses that can and cannot operate.

We need to give similar more detailed guidance on what life at Level 3 looks like, and we will do that next week. That will give us a window to iron out questions and issues, and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be when it comes time to move.

It is then my intention that on the 20th of April, two days before the lockdown is due to finish, Cabinet will make a decision on our next steps. That’s because we need to use the most up to date data that we have to make that decision.

That means, if we are ready to move to Alert Level 3, business we will have two days to implement arrangements.

But let me say again, we will not be moving out of Level 4 early. If we move too early, we will go backwards.

In the meantime I ask every business to use the time you have to prepare for what every alert level may mean for you. Treat COVID-19 like a health and safety issue. Ask whether it’s possible for your business to have social distancing? Can you build in contact tracing tools or mechanisms to keep track of your supply train and customers?

Help us get ready as a nation for the marathon we must all run together.

I know we can do this. And I know that, because we are already.

So as we head in to Easter I say thank you to you and your bubble. You have stayed calm, you’ve been strong, you’ve saved lives, and now we need to keep going.

Daily Covid update Thursday – 29 new cases, 35 recovered

Dr Ashley Bloomfield:

29 new cases (23 confirmed and 6 probable) down again – total 1239.

14 in hospital with 4 in ICU.

317 recovered (+35) which again is more than new cases – a very promising sign.

3,990 tests processed yesterday.

Bloomfield says he expects case numbers to stay low, with a few bumps up and down.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

New modelling to be released this afternoon – current controls have enabled us to meet the most optimisitc modelling scenarios,

She acknowledges they risks to many businesses and makes assuring comments “doing what we can to cushion the blow but this is going to be a marathon”.

She repeats that the best thing we can do for the economy is to keep the virus out.

From midnight tonight every New Zealander returning to the country will go into quarantine (or managed isolation) in a Government approved facility for a minimum of 12 days. A network of 18 hotels will be used for this.

Ardern defends not doing this earlier saying nearly 40,000 New Zealanders  have returned home since we closed the border to foreign nationals and it couldn’t have been done – that’s more than our total hotel capacity.

Contact tracing is now critical and a top priority.

Signposts so we can have a plan.

They will give detailed level 3 rules “for when it comes time to eventually change” to level 3. This will be published on 20 April, 2 days before the 4 week lockdown period is over (so it is based on as much data as possible) to give businesses a couple of days  to plan.

We need to give similar more detailed guidance on what life at Level 3 looks like, and we will do that next week. That will give us a window to iron out questions and issues, and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be when it comes time to move.

It is then my intention that on the 20th of April, two days before the lockdown is due to finish, Cabinet will make a decision on our next steps. That’s because we need to use the most up to date data that we have to make that decision.

That means, if we are ready to move to Alert Level 3, business we will have two days to implement arrangements.

Preparing for coming down to level 3 (with revised rules) but not a guarantee it will happen after 4 weeks.

Message to businesses – prepare for all possibilities.

Asked if there is an endpoint Ardern says now, no end date at this stage, “this will be a marathon”.

As at 9am, 9 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 992 23
Number of probable cases 247 6
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,239 29
Number of cases in hospital 14 2
Number of recovered cases 317 35
Number of deaths 1

Waikato DHB says two nurses have tested positive for COVID-19. They worked in the same ward at Waikato Hospital and  have been stood down immediately on developing symptoms.


Driving licenses, WoFs and vehicle registrations extended past expiry

It was obvious that leeway would need to be given on vehicle warrant of fitnesses that expire while under lockdown. The Government is addressing this as well as some vehicle registrations and license renewals. (Most people should be able to renew vehicle registrations online).

Any that expired after 1 January 2020 will be extended “for up to six months from 10 April 2020” – that’s a bit vague but could be dependent on when the lockdown is eased.

I hope this will also cover us for insurance.

Licenses, WoFs and regos extended under lockdown

All driver licences, WoFs, CoFs, and some vehicle certifications, that expired on or after 1 January 2020 will be valid for up to six months from 10 April 2020, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced.

“People shouldn’t have to worry about getting fined for having an expired document if driving to use essential services or as an essential worker during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown,” Phil Twyford said.

“That’s why we have provided an extension to give certainty to the public that they won’t be issued infringement notices for using their vehicles appropriately. It’ll still be up to drivers to keep their vehicles safe and I urge owners to follow the NZ Transport Agency’s advice and regularly self-check their vehicle.

“We’re asking drivers before they set off, to give it a TWIRL – check your Tyres, Windscreen, wipers, mirrors, and Indicators, look for Rust, and test your Lights.

“We are allowing essential repairs, like sorting out punctured tyres or damaged windscreens. If anything looks out of order, please go get it fixed as soon as you can.

“Drivers will still need to be medically fit to drive, comply with relevant restrictions and conditions on their licence and obey all road rules. Any licence suspensions and disqualifications will also continue to apply.

“The extension will give people and businesses plenty of time after the lockdown to renew their documents without putting extra pressure on them when they are already likely to be stressed,” Phil Twyford said.

Other changes include license endorsements that expire on or after 1 March 2020 will be extended and there will be a suspension of the requirement to display a current vehicle licence (rego) if it expired on or after 1 January 2020.