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NZ Traffic Light

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Note: This article was on the backlog for quite some time, but recently re-interested me again due to new developments.

Introduction

Why write an article? Recently, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told of plans to introduce a COVID "traffic light" system, where those who are vaccinated are 'allowed' to continue about their daily business, whereas those who are not vaccinated will find their lives become increasingly more difficult. This news has now even reached the UK, with popular commentators like Count Dankula reviewing the situation through the lens of online/British media. Being on the ground here, I thought that I would be in a position to provide a less biased review.

Let me preface my review with the fact that I am so far very lucky to have so far lived out the pandemic in New Zealand, where the affects of COVID-19 have been largely lessened due to a geographical isolation and quick response from the government of the day.

I understand how the following could be seen as "biting the hand that feeds me". To that I say - as I respect the free speech afforded to New Zealanders living in the UK, where I actively encourage them to take an interest in local politics, I too hope they afford me the same privilege in kind. The critical writing here is not with some goal of pulling New Zealand down, but simply to offer an alternative perspective. Times are understandably tough, but if we fail to review them critically then we can quite easily sleep-walk into traps.

Review

And now to review the press release on this situation (published on 22nd October 2021).

The Government has announced details of its Covid-19 Protection Framework, involving the rollout of a 'traffic light' system once all DHBs hit 90 percent full vaccination rates.

Netflix's popular Squid Game

Netflix's popular Squid Game

I think the Labour government thought they were being clever using a 'traffic light' system, but actually this call-back to Squid Game is really not funny, especially as you want people to "get a shot". It's really quite disgusting framing. I think this is ultimately the problem with trying to be culturally relevant, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.

Secondly, 90% vaccination is arbitrary and you are outright lying. I call you out here and now. The concept of being 'fully' vaccinated will become some forever moving goalpost. First it was one shot, then two shots, then boosters - soon it will be a delta specific vaccine and it will simply never end.

Looking at current 'DHB' rates, it's not even close. But as you can see, the definition of 'fully' vaccinated only requires a first dose when it's the measure for introducing some arbitrary policy.

Current vaccination rates

Current vaccination rates

This is because if they can get you to have a first dose, the probability of you getting a second dose is very high 1. But just watch, as soon the definition of 'fully' will transform into something entirely different.

A vaccine certificate will be central to the new framework.

It says 'certificate', but they actually mean 'passport'. They just don't want to negative connotations associated currently with vaccine passports.

Do let that sink in for a second - you will literally need a passport to navigate your own local community, as if you are a foreign entity in the community you are invested in. If you refuse to provide one, you will be shunned by your own community.

The system will involve three settings - green, orange and red.

Just a mild point - they could have used green, yellow and red - but orange is much closer to red. I believe this is on purpose.

"If you want to be guaranteed that no matter the setting that we are in, that you can go to bars, restaurants and close-proximity businesses like a hairdresser, then you will need to be vaccinated," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media this morning.

This really hides the point. These freedoms were given away voluntarily, and now the government is dictating when these freedoms can be returned. They have no right to do this. It's as if the entire of New Zealand became a prison population - prisoners are dictated as to where they can and can't go for the 'greater good of society'.

The reality is, the freedom of movement, within your own borders, was voluntarily and temporarily given by the public. On a matter of principle alone, you should not allow the government to dictate when those freedoms are given back. They are inherently yours and were never given to the New Zealand government to permanently control. The people never indicated they wanted this with a vote, Jacinda does not do these actions with a mandate of the people.

She was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare as the Government also announced enhanced financial support for businesses and those families struggling under restrictions, and a new $120 million fund to boost Māori vaccination rates and protection of communities.

You can always spot a Prime Minister strong-arming the public - they surround themselves with 'experts' and other faces of significance in order to boost their own reputation and share the risk of revolt.

I also find it somewhat insulting on behalf of the Māori community that they can be easily bought off. I think that their opposition to the vaccine has little basis in money (of which they won't actually see).

Local Response

Probably the most alarming thing has been the lack of response, compared to Countries like the those in the EU, or even Australia. Any push back here is viewed as "anti-vax" and selfish. No consideration is given to those who reject the idea of a COVID passport on the basis of freedom.

It is very concerning how easily people are willing to give up such freedoms, especially with no sunset clauses in sight. Now I can very much see how easily the Nazis were able to occupy and control Germany - it wasn't that people agreed with them, just simply not enough people opposed them.

Further Developments

Perhaps you can imagine my surprise then when I recently watched a Youtube video by NewsHub, and find out that there is only 11 days until this thing is actually implemented:

Raw video

This genuinely disgusts me. Jacinda's body language is disgusting. Imagine telling people that you will be implementing a local prison whilst smiling like this. It's psychopathic. How can the news media not even remotely criticise this move?

"It's really great to have the progress." one lady says for the interview - despite the number of cases not going down. Vaccination simply isn't stopping the spread, as recently published papers suggest. So now what?

Going Forwards

I really suspect other Countries are watching in anticipation, waiting to see what happens. Many Countries in the EU have already implemented their own vaccine passport systems. I really suspect they are testing the waters. I hope that the New Zealand people resist this and push back on the NZ government - once these powers are given they cannot be easily taken back.

By the same argument made for COVID passports, why not a flu passport? Many a person has died from the flu. Why not a general medical certificate? These is after all an 'obesity epidemic'. When it comes to "national security" or "national health" - what can't be 'justified'? Where does this stop?

Personally, I am now vaccinated. I live in 'Rome' and have to do as the Roman's do, and I don't have a choice in the matter (despite vaccines being apparently voluntary). I do not believe I am at any risk of getting a bad case of COVID, and it does not stop the spread of the delta variant. It was a completely pointless exercise and violation of my basic rights.

If I were in the UK, I would certainly hold my ground, and I hope people in the UK are doing so. As of yet, I am not aware of a UK COVID vaccine passport. I am disappointed that New Zealanders did not put up more of a fight on this point. I really do wish them well though, and hope all that I fear does not come to pass.

Stay well all.


  1. Although I am hearing some reports that people are beginning to resist further shots, especially in Countries like the US.