I have watched New Zealand’s approach to Covid-19 with a huge amount of interest. Like many other people I have much admired the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the way she has approached dealing with a pandemic. She has shown strength, authenticity, decisiveness and honesty in the communication that has been undertaken. It has been delivered with empathy and if you remember the Easter bunny interview you can see why I say that. If you haven’t seen it I would search it out.
Today, New Zealand has placed lockdown restrictions on Auckland following the first community transmission cases in more than 100 days. So how has the Prime Minister dealt with this situation?
Importantly, she has been very visible in explaining the local lockdown measures and spoke directly to the people of Auckland as well as the rest of New Zealand. Standing up and explaining exactly what the situation is and what it means is vital to continue to maintain trust and confidence. Having listened to some of the press conference there is a serious tone and while the tight restrictions are put in place the reason behind it is made clear.
Jacinda Ardern uses words including that Aucklanders should work ‘with us’ which bring the Government and the community closer together. She also explains what people need to do ‘stay home’ and ‘act as if you have Covid and the people around you have Covid’. As businesses, schools, shops are all closed in Auckland they know it will be three days of assessment before understanding the next stage of the plan.
It is a textbook approach to the re-emerging crisis. She acts quickly and decisively. She recognises that this is going to be of concern to people both in terms of Covid-19 and the economic impact and deals with it by being visible and attempting to connect with people.
Above all she makes the information clear and easy to understand. It is clear what the situation is for people in Auckland and the rest of the country. It is clear what people need to do. There is a clear timeline for the next stages including a three day assessment before further information and the next phase is discussed.
The fact that an outbreak of four cases becomes breaking news highlights the positive work that has been underway in New Zealand throughout the pandemic. I watch this latest announcement not with concern but with a confidence that the authorities will bring things under control again. It is a confidence that they have gained from the work throughout the past five months.