Questions on “safe economic activity” at lowered Covid-19 alert levels

Questions were asked at today’s Epidemic Response Committee about what different alert levels will mean to businesses wanting to restart. There seems to be a focus on “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

From Stuff Live:

Simon Bridges probing the “levels” in relation to the economy. Treasury’s modeling shows the lower the level, the better the economy. He said businesses are telling him they want to go to level 2. “Level 3 is a bit of a no man’s land”.

Grant Robertson is saying the detail of the lockdown coming this week will give business some clear guidance of what’s permitted. He’s saying it will show us “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

“I don’t share your view around level 3,” Robertson says level 3 will allow us to increase economic activity.

He says he’s been working with the construction sector to work out what safe economic activity looks like.

Robertson is saying the enthusiasm for coming out of lockdown early can actually mean yo-yo-ing between levels, which isn’t good for economic activity either.

Paul Goldsmith asking about “what sort of pragmatism” will be brought to the health regulations that will determine how businesses work under levels 2 and 3.

Robertson said work is underway on those issues, so there would be real clarity.

Contact tracing will be important too. “Knowing who is in your workplace, knowing where they are and what they’re doing”. This will help us manage flare ups as they come.

Responding to Marama Davidson, “the best economic response is a strong public health response”.

Sounds like a patsy.

University of Otago epidemiologist, Professor David Skegg, said countries that had not succeeded in controlling this disease, their economies were not going to flourish.

“I’m not an economist, but I would be very surprised if we’re going to do worse economically because of the measures we’re taking in the medium term.”

He stressed that the country should get to level 2.

“We need some careful planning this week on what level 3 or level 3.5 would look like.

“It’s not just a health issue and it’s not just an economic issue,” Skegg said.

From RNZ Live:

Simon Bridges said level 3 was akin to no man’s land with the downsides of level 4.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said when deciding on moving to level 2 and 3, his focus was on “what constitutes safe economic activity?”

“Level 4 is doing exactly what we wanted it to do for New Zealand and New Zealanders. The last thing we want is to come out level 4 and create a situation where we have to yo-yo between levels.”

Meanwhile, Paul Goldsmith said businesses needed clarity on returning to work and how social distancing would look like in the working environment.

“There’s a shared desire among industry workers, government to get people back to work as soon as possible. Health and safety is a very important part of the workplace,” Robertson said.

“The best economic response is a strong public health response and that has to be underpinned by an investment in our health system.”


Michael Woodhouse asking whether the “principles approach” is sector based or risk based.

The question is really whether or not the businesses that open will be determined by the kind of business they are (for example cafes) or the kind of measures that are put in place by any business, so cafes that follow those guidelines could reopen, whereas the one’s that don’t implement the guidelines don’t reopen.

Robertson said it will be mainly the latter (so not sector-based) BUT you can’t completely detach sectors from the guidelines.

Bridges asking whether level 3 is therefore significantly more permissive than level 4.

No response given.

Robertson saying that in the case of the media, “the patient had pre-existing conditions”.

Media just about had comorbidity.




Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th April 2020

    There is no evidence of infection occuring in the designated essential businesses and activities allowed to operate.

    Therefore all business and activities that can comply with the same safety rules should be allowed.

    • David

       /  14th April 2020

      This is a very well made point, if we can operate a supermarket with no infections why cant Mr Green go back to work.

  2. The masses may not care much about the media, but this may spook them.

    And they can’t even panic gorge at the moment.

    • Corky

       /  14th April 2020

      Burger King was already in a downward spiral. Their outlets were filthy. Staff were poorly trained. The burgers consisted of a poorly cooked beef patties…topped with a soggy lettuce and half a bucket of mayo to hide the taste. I wouldn’t miss them.

      • Why did you go there if they were like that ?

      • Blazer

         /  14th April 2020

        you are very particular with that healthy diet of yours Corky…can you rate Wendys?Carls Jnr?

      • Corky

         /  14th April 2020

        ”Why did you go there if they were like that ?”

        I went once. Invited the second time. One year apart. Others have told me of similar experiences. Tentative conclusion reached.

        @ Blazer

        ”You are very particular with that healthy diet of yours Corky…can you rate Wendys?Carls Jnr?”

        Yes, I am. In my early years when I was forced to eat better I became like these vegans are at present – fanatical. That’s not a good way to be. If I want F&C ( had some the other day), Mccas or BK…I have it.

        ”Wendys?Carls Jnr?”

        Sorry, never had them. How do you find them?

    • Pink David

       /  14th April 2020

      How about we start a graph of business failures and unemployment from NZ’s reaction to Covid-19?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  14th April 2020

        Most of the failures have already happened. What is in doubt is the recoveries from life support. The dead will be wheeled out slowly mostly under cover of darkness.

        • Duker

           /  14th April 2020

          They are viable longer term, they just need to shaft the landlords, IRD , staff payments, before opening again – its called Phoenixing
          Probably keeping all of the governments wage subsidy as well.

          • Pink David

             /  14th April 2020

            “They are viable longer term”

            They were viable before their business was destroyed by the government.

            They will be viable at some point in the future when the government allows their business to actually operate.

            The problem is the bit between point A and point B/


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