Meanwhile, Australia’s New South Wales state premier resigns over corruption probe amid COVID-19 struggle.
Less than eight weeks ago, I reported that in its quest to achieve “Zero COVID” in the country, New Zealand had essentially killed off its tourism industry and Lord of the Rings empire.
I also indicated that the goal of “Zero-COVID” was not achievable for various reasons. For example, it had already spread globally before the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was first reported, and it appears to be custom-designed to adhere to human respiratory systems). It is endemic, and eventually (as with the previous global coronavirus pandemic of 1889), there will be enough population immunity that it will join the suite of other respiratory viruses that cause the common cold.
This weekend, there were rallies in Auckland and other New Zealand cities protesting against the continuing restrictions.
Around 1,000 people rallied in the city, organised by Destiny Church, a Pentecostal fundamentalist Christian movement, demanded “freedom from lockdown”, New Zealand media reported. There were no immediate reports of violence or arrests.
Rallies were scheduled to also take place in the capital Wellington and Christchurch.
🇳🇿🚨 NEW ZEALAND IS AWAKENING!
THERE WAS A HUGE PROTEST AGAINST COVID TYRANNY IN AUCKLAND ⚡ pic.twitter.com/39GzNLGlO6
— Teresa (@Thorsome1776) October 2, 2021
It appears that the continuing lockdowns were not working as promised.
Cases in New Zealand are rising again, which is bizarre because I was assured by fanatical New Zealand COVID twitter that their lockdown would eradicate COVID in a matter of days
Looking forward to getting my apology from them…any day now, I’m sure pic.twitter.com/vQUJz5Sbrj
— IM (@ianmSC) October 3, 2021
Now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving up the “Zero-COVID” strategy seven weeks into a lockdown that has failed to halt an outbreak of the Delta variant, announcing that restrictions would be gradually lifted in Auckland.
“We’re transitioning from our current strategy into a new way of doing things,” Ms. Ardern told reporters. “With Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult, and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve that quickly. In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases.”
“What we have called a long tail,” she added, “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.”
…[T]he mood among many in Auckland has soured as the most recent lockdown has stretched on, with thousands of people breaking a stay-at-home order on Saturday to demonstrate against the restrictions in the country’s largest such protest of the pandemic.
The country’s vaccination program has also been a source of consternation. The campaign began in earnest only last month, and fewer than half of people 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, leaving New Zealand far behind most developed countries.
Under Ardern’s plan that starts Tuesday, Aucklanders will be able to meet outdoors with loved ones from one other household, early childhood centers will reopen and people will be able to go to the beach.
The dates for a phased reopening of retail stores and later bars and restaurants have yet to be decided.
Ardern said the elimination strategy had served the country incredibly well but the government always intended to eventually transition to the protection of vaccines, a change hastened by the delta variant “game changer.”
Meanwhile, the premier of Australia’s biggest state economy, New South Wales (NSW), Gladys Berejiklian, resigned after a corruption watchdog said it was investigating whether she was involved in conduct that “constituted or involved a breach of public trust.
Berejiklian’s shock resignation comes as the state, which has an economy larger than Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia, battles the biggest COVID-19 outbreak in the country and is poised to begin ending months-long lockdowns as Australia sets to reopen international borders in November.
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