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New Zealand Declares State of Emergency [video] (bloomberg.com)
65 points by partingshots 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments

As a Kiwi living in NYC, I'm impressed by the "go hard, go early" approach the NZ government has taken, compared with the delayed response here.

NZ also has easily enforceable border control (surrounded by the Pacific ocean) which is already strict (their economy is so reliant on agriculture exports.)

They should come out of this better than most.

My kiwi friend, a doc, thinks that this is a late approach. While Germany etc. was already in lockdown, NZ still was hesitant. So, he calls this a delayed approach as well.

Also a kiwi. Everyone is hesitant and it's natural to be. By locking down we are guaranteeing that people's businesses will fold and a large number of people will lose their jobs / livelihoods. No leader wants to do that unless absolutely necessary.

We've had self isolation for people coming in from overseas in place for a few weeks and as soon as that progressed to community transmission we've locked down. We had 50 cases where 2 could not be traced back to international travel. We're now at 200 cases (as of yesterday) and still no deaths.

I think hindsight is always 20/20 and I think NZ has done the right thing in appropriate timelines given what we knew at the time.

We are fortunate that we are a remote island in the south pacific that makes it easier for us to close borders and contain this much easier than other countries can.

NZ was a few days after Germany, yes, but it's a very isolated country.

Germany locked down after almost 100 deaths (and 20,000 cases.)

NZ locked down as soon as community transmission was detected (2 cases out of 50 total were untraceable.) No deaths yet.

I agree this is a delayed approach. We squandered our greatest resource to fight this: our border.

We could not have rolled better starting stats to have:

1) A giant moat around us.

2) Only really four international airports (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown).

3) All these are destination airports (as opposed to transit hubs where Singapore or Heathrow are classic examples).

I flew through Asia when SARS was in full swing and just now in February-March (just my luck) and have gone through borders where this was taken seriously earlier. NZs earlier "additional border controls" were pathetic. When I returned in mid March there was:

1) No thermal screening of passengers.

2) No health form to fill in.

3) Australian, Singapore and US!? passports were allowed to use the e-gates.

4) No additional cleaning of high risk surfaces.

5) No protective measures for the customs and border staff.

6) The only extra measure was a tiny pamphlet being handed out which essentially said: "If you feel sick, please ring healthline or a GP and tell them you have travelled."

Instead when I landed on 13th March:

1) I got a pamphlet handed to me which most passengers ignored and threw away

2) Had to touch the e-gates (which had no evidence of cleaning) that were touched by hundreds of other travellers

3) Could not wash my hands properly because soap ran out in a couple of the bathrooms

4) For extra points I could have jumped on a airport to city centre bus full of tourists from Europe (I got picked up instead).

and then they announced with a 48 hour warning that the border was shutting and then planes were packed coming in as people tried to "beat the compulsary quarantine".

The border should have been shut before the first case was detected here.

edit - additional new lines and a sentence

Being remote leads to an apathetic population.

There would have been limited community support for closing the border prior to the first case. It was a distant problem while running rampant across Asia, even more-so as it decimated Europe.

Sadly, I think you are absolutely correct.

As some further context, New Zealand announced its lock down when it had 2 cases that weren't linked to international travel.

> I'm honestly surprised by any country that hasn't done this yet

Not saying it's a wrong choice, but it's not so obvious to me that it's the right thing to do at this stage. They still have time to try less drastic measures. Especially given their enforceable borders, low density, and the experience available from other countries.

Also I'd like to hear about the post-lockdown strategy. For instance, my country is planning to be in lockdown for 6 weeks. But what will be different in 6 weeks? we'll probably still have some cases here and there. Following the same logic as NZ, we should go in lockdown again (or never leave it, and close our borders until there are no more cases in the world, or a cure)

It seems a better strategy would be to have a moderate lockdown which helps regulating the flow of infection so that the healthcare system is not overflowed, and so that we can gradually reach herd immunity.

I'm honestly surprised by any country that hasn't done this yet. Looking at NZ they have 200 cases today which means the real number of undetected cases there is already some thousands. Everyone seems to be dragging their feet even though its crystal clear how this will play out in the short term.

> real number of undetected cases there is already some thousands

Reference please (did you just make this number up?)

For there to be 1024 cases in the community, 20 days ago there were 128 cases. Of those, between 5 and 20 would be hospitalised by now.

I personally trust NZ has (a) tested hospitalised cases, (b) been honest in reporting cases, and (c) has been testing their contacts.

One million kiwis live overseas (population left 5 million). So we have a huge number of returning kiwis that have the virus (that’s where the 200 comes from).

Of course, NZ believes there is community transmission, that is why they have acted immediately on detection.

They have closed down flights and roads, so if one town gets infected, people can’t leave and spread infection (a la Italy). Edit: They are actively teaching the concept of your social “bubble” which is a brilliant word and a critical thing everyone needs to know. We are still missing bandannas (it’s a respiratory disease - reduction in R0 helps massively), and we are still overplaying washing hands (this isn’t measles).

Take a look at Singapore and Vietnam. They both had cases relatively under control. Then other countries started shutting down, so plenty of citizens returned.

At least for Vietnam, every single one of their new cases for the past week or so have been international travelers arriving back home.

I'd expect NZ to see a big jump in cases as well.

The majority of those 200 cases are from international travelers who were already in self isolation after arrival in the country.

They called the lockdown as soon as the first community transmission case was detected.

If this lockdown works in stifling the current trajectory the looming concern then becomes, what's next? NZ can't open borders as it'll lead them right back to community spread. Remain closed to the outside world until they achieve plentiful vaccination?


Tourism stopped weeks ago

we also did this for the big earthquakes, just gives government power to shut down travel and requisition resources if required. NZ is at level 4 lock down for 4weeks minimum and from the reaction of most of my circle 100% of the people approve of the government action.

> the reaction of most of my circle 100% of the people approve of the government action.

It helps that you have a leader that articulates the scale of the problem and is clear about what measures are being put in place to deal with the situation both tactically and strategically.

I don't want to politicize the conversation, HN is not the place for that, but it's striking how the different management styles in say NZ & IRL differ from the UK & US and how that is helping people deal with the crisis.

In the US for example, individual Governors (aka Team Leads) are taking up the slack where the CEO is not equipped to deal with the scale of the problem. But fundamentally in a pandemic (aka extrinsic force) what counts is trust in leadership, what Ms Arden is demonstrating. Good luck, stay safe.

The governors are explicitly in charge of this. The US federal government has no authority to order shelter-in-place. And this makes sense, since the states are as large as most countries.

Most states are not anywhere near the level of New York, and while they need a shelter-in-place order eventually, we need to recognize that practically, people can only stand them for X amount of weeks. If you do it too early you risk people flouting the order and continuing to do so once things get bad.

The US is more akin to the European Union than a single country, and it's high time people realized this and stopped looking to uncle sam for leadership. During the 1918 flu pandemic, there was no national response. Individual governors and mayors instituted lockdowns as they saw fit, with support from the feds in terms of money.

The virus doesn't respect state boundaries. While you are not wrong wrt to Fed & State duties - if the leadership is going to take a 'wartime' stance then it needs to message to that effect.

The CEO of my company does not tell my team how to deliver product. However, if there's a disconnect between what they're saying and what we're trying to accomplish there is a morale problem.

> The virus doesn't respect state boundaries. While you are not wrong wrt to Fed & State duties - if the leadership is going to take a 'wartime' stance then it needs to message to that effect.

The federal government has been absolutely warlike. Unfortunately, the media reports coming out of the press conferences are completely out of touch and honestly false when compared with what was actually said.

With regard to the states not being warlike enough. I don't disagree, but I would have major issues with an American president telling governors what to do. Nevertheless, the administration has taken a very supportive role with regard to governors. Trump has openly praised several governors who have previously called for his own impeachment for their responses to the virus, and even said he wished more governors would follow along (in closing things down, as needed). I don't see how much more warlike trump can get. The governors need to follow suit.

> the media reports coming out of the press conferences are completely out of touch and honestly false when compared with what was actually said

> Trump has openly praised several governors who have previously called for his own impeachment

These are extraordinary claims and I think you'd have a much stronger argument with specific examples and sources.

Okay sure. Let's start with something the media doesn't report. You seem to think that this is controversial:

> Trump has openly praised several governors who have previously called for his own impeachment

However, if you listen to the press conferences, Trump has repeatedly praised both Newsom and Cuomo.


> And I watched what’s been happening in California with Governor Newsom and, this morning, with Governor Cuomo, and I applaud them. They’re taking very strong, bold steps, and I applaud them. And we’re all working together. We’re working very closely together, including those two governors.

Since you didn't know that from reading media coverage, I think it's safe to say that the media does not report what goes on at the press conferences.

EDIT: being downvoted for citing sources clearly saying that I what I said was true. Hacker news!

Having a leader who says things like that CV will go away in a few days when that's manifestly not true is not helpful. Leaving the states to bid against each other for limited supplies is not helpful. The US is not at all akin to the European Union. Perhaps in the early stages between the revolution and the constitution that was true, but it's not remotely the case now.

> Leaving the states to bid against each other for limited supplies is not helpful.

What else would you have them do? Only states know what they need, not the feds. The feds gave them appropriate money to stockpile medical equipment. They have to spend it.

The feds can coordinate the response. This isn't the eighteenth century. Just like employing the DPA can enable more efficient deployment of resources. Some problems require a top-down solution, this is one of them. All the ideology in the world won't change that.

The fact that it isn’t the 18th century, means that there is effectively no limit distance limit to governments.

There is no need for the US government to retain control here either. A unified response coordinated by the WHO could work.... all for the price of a little thing called national sovereignty.

Of course, in reality that’s unworkable. Which is why in reality, federal governments haven’t collapsed into centralized control structures either. Germany for example still has its individual states deciding on testing procedure.

Why does it require a top-down solution. How would the DPA invocation help the automakers change their production lines? Does the federal government have expertise there? Can you lay it out for me?

> This isn't the eighteenth century.

In the twentieth century, our response to the pandemic flu was not a top-down one from the federal level. Local government and even non-profits were the primary responders.

In the US for example, individual Governors (aka Team Leads) are taking up the slack where the CEO is not equipped to deal with the scale of the problem.

This is by design. The United States is a union of individual states. It is not intended to be top-down. Most of that "federal government over all" was added in recent decades.

The system is designed so that states handle problems themselves (which, for example, is why each state has its own National Guard). If the problem gets too big for the states, then the federal government is supposed to step in to help, but only in a supporting role.

Whether the feds are fulfilling that supporting role in what is clearly a national crisis (though some of the states aren't ready to admit that yet), is, as you said, beyond the scope of HN.

This is fantasy thinking about the structure of the US and how the problem can be effectively dealt with.

The US states are like EU nations. They only give up control of anything that passes their borders (and a few other things like the right to leave the union unilaterally).

As the US is much older than the EU, its economy has evolved so effectively everything passes a states border giving the federal government the right to control almost every aspect of life (except things explicitly barred from it).

However, the moment the federal government institutes a state by state lockdown, control immediately reverts back to the states since nothing crosses the borders any longer.

Canada is following the same process as the US. The federal government has not instituted a top down approach to lockdown, but is rather letting individual provinces do it. Which makes sense, since there are some big differences between them.

I think NZ did the mistake to not test enough people for too long and not doing enough controls at the borders (which is a relative easy task for a fairly isolated island, with only a bunch of international airports). I'm very happy they decided to move quickly in the last week, and the PM did a very good job giving clear information of what is going to happen and what is expected from everybody. Considering that only 4 months ago I was living in Italy, I feel so lucky I moved my family here before things start to collapse back home..

What's interesting for public policy wonks like myself is that New Zealand has increasingly adopted a presidential-style executive. The Prime Minister naturally pulls more face time than other Cabinet ministers and the position has attracted even more political gravity over time, esp. in the Key and Adern eras.

We've definitely always had strong Premier/Prime Ministerial identities: think Vogel "King Dick", Savage, Muldoon, Lange, Clarke as well as Key and Adern.

In the US, the State Governors are explicitly in charge of this, not the Federal government which has minimal authority in such matters. It is misleading to describe this as "taking up the slack", given that the US government is specifically structured such that it is supposed to work this way.

I do not believe that is accurate. I would say the Federal Government can have maximum authority, under certain circumstances, if it is competent enough to know when to do so. The Federal Government, specifically the Executive Branch, has the authority to declare a nationwide state of emergency. Doing so gives broad (and somewhat undefined) powers to the President and Federal Government.

See, for example, The International Emergency Economic Powers Act: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Emergency_Econ...

Edit, to add: I don’t think the IEEPA applies here, but there are a number of Congressional Acts that give the President and Federal Government tremendous power to regulate State goings-on. This was just the first one I could think of.

You are not wrong with respect to healthcare but leadership comes from the top, more so when this is not a State specific problem. Just listen to the Governor of NY plead for help. State's can chose to ignore the president but if the want help from the Feds (FEMA etc) then your point is moot.

The feds have explicitly stated they are willing to help, and are sending resources to the states?

The leadership, the 'feds' (FEMA) and the states are three separate entities.

Sorry, I'll rephrase. Trump has explicitly stated he is willing to give money to the states to deal with the problem. And has sent resources (like the navy ships, dod medical stockpiles, and emergency hospitals)

No, he says that he's done things but many of these things (like the navy ships) are far from being launched. Much of what Trump says is not true and a disturbing amount of that is actively harmful.

Money to states: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/06/8129648...

Dod medical stockpiles: https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2115200...

emergency hospitals: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8144037/National-Gu...

Navy ships: https://thehill.com/policy/defense/489020-navy-hospital-ship...

You are just spreading lies. Monday is not today, but it is quite close, and the ships were undergoing repairs, as trump said.

Monday was two days ago. If you can understand that this is a fast moving situation, maybe it would be best to give people the benefit of the doubt when they give out information you believe to be outdated?

The article I posted says this coming Monday? Trump said the ship would be deployed but that it was undergoing repairs. It's being deployed monday. How is it a lie to say the ship is being deployed?

Will you give me the benefit of the doubt and read the article? What lie did Trump tell? At no point did he claim the ships were already present at their destinations.

Oh... I misread you then. I thought you were saying that this was new information since Monday.

It certainly helps when they're working from the same playbook though.

It has less to do with management style and more to do with governmental construction. New Zealand is a unitary state. The US is a federal state. There are concrete divisions of power and certain expectations of national power from both the people and the states (which hold separate, independent political power).

I am not talking about division of responsibilities but more the underlying tone of how to respond to the problem. We are not getting a clear, consistent and decisive message from the top in the UK or the US. How individual state in the US respond is regardless. A fish rots from the head down.

Trump has told people explicitly to stay inside, avoid work if possible, and instructed state governors to issue lockdowns, promising that they have his support. What more do you want?

I'm honestly flabbergasted on this one. Trump's response has been more decisive than any past president in response to a national pandemic. Even during the 1918 flu, we never had such a large federal response.

Well, ignoring his intelligence community for months, downplaying it for the first few weeks once he started acknowledging it, and now advocating for a quick end to the lockdowns...

> and now advocating for a quick end to the lockdowns...

What rubbish. He's not advocating for it. He just said he hoped for it. Don't we all?

> I said earlier today that I hope we can do this by Easter. I think that would be a great thing for our country and we’re all working very hard to make that a reality. We’ll be meeting with a lot of people to see if it can be done. Easter is a very special day for many reasons for me, for a lot of a lot of our friends. That’s a very special day and what a great timeline this would be. Easter as our timeline. What a great timeline that would be.

That does not come across as advocating. But hoping.


> My first priority is always the health and safety of the American people. I want everyone to understand that we are continuing to evaluate the data.

When asked how he will decide to reopen the country:

Sounds like they will continue the lockdowns if the data warrant it. Shouldn't we hope that all countries evaluate the data?

> I think we’ll be looking at a lot of things. We’ll also be looking again at very large portions of our country and I will be guided very much by Dr. Fauci and by Deborah and by some of the other professionals that work with both of you. And we’re going to see what will be.

I don't understand why the media doesn't correctly report on these issues. They just really dislike the orange dude

“I think it would be a beautiful time and it's just about the timeline that I think is right”

What medical advisor could possibly have told him that timeline “is right”?

Did you miss the part that this is all supposed to be over in 15 days (and the time is almost up)?

Can you explain what you mean? White house said they'd reconsider in 15 days. My guess is they'll reconsider and stay with the current approach.


But worth noting that it is a minority government. The ruling party has to get the agreement of two other parties to act

I mean, the US congress is currently in a split party situation and has managed to work together and pass several stimulus bills already. Parties actually remarkably agree on what to do. The republicans were even calling for more federal aid this time.

I wouldn't group the UK and US on this, from what I've seen the response is quite different.

The strategies are somewhat different, but the failures in leadership are quite similar.

What failures are those?

Yeah there's a handful of Americanized comments on social media ("Muh freedoms!") but generally a lot of approval. I'm glad we seem to be taking our cues from South Korea, Taiwan, etc, about how to deal with this.

Haha ... then their gonna take muh gunz! As an American who was preparing for this in February, I'm not surprised that the number of cases here has grown given that attitude is represented by probably 25% of the people I know. I'm in a university town and expected more. I'm also pretty dismayed that we fell behind this when we knew it was coming. Officials who heard some of the early briefings knew enough to dump their stocks but didn't argue we should start producing test kits?

So for now, we're living the dream in our house ... stay safe everyone!

To the down voters:

NZ is strongly influenced by US media - news, entertainment, online.

However just as there is strong partisanship between your political parties, many kiwis have a love/hate relationship with the US, or some of it’s policies.

So you often see kiwis take the piss (mickey) out of those we perceive as gung-ho supporters of the US, and vice versa. And that support can vary depending on topic.

The usual things we laugh at are: your bi-partisan politics (we have MMP), your gun ownership (any gun deaths are front page news here), your lack of support for your poor (healthcare, unemployed, elderly), your media (you all appear like Texans), and your ego (lack of insight about your weaknesses compared with other countries).

I love travelling to the US (although I stopped travelling there about 15 years ago when your government started treating arriving tourists like criminals), I like the majority of Americans I met there, and I love much of your individuality that enables your entrepreneurship, amongst other things.


What's happening in NZ explained here: https://covid19.govt.nz/

And what the "State of National Emergency" means: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/412583/covid-19-state-of...

I live in SF but was in New Zealand just 9 days ago. At the time, there were 6 confirmed cases and NZ had already put in place a 14-day self-isolation policy for travelers. Seeing how things _could_ be handled (and watching the U.S. from afar) made it extremely difficult to "go back home." I felt so much safer there. W/ all of that said, I'm actually surprised Arden didn't lock things down sooner.

I think the government has failed to prepare everyone, almost misleading us with lack of worry or urgency over the last many weeks. We obviously could have begun some actions months ago (I started acting on the 10th February, Taiwan started acting strongly on 31st Dec). Many people and businesses have been caught out badly in NZ.

However, I have some trust that our government has been actively measuring the signals needed to know when to shutdown, and I am now really happy to see action.

I have seen many people I would expect to be smarter downplay this (Ioannidis, Musk, etc), and the failure of most western countries to act, so I don’t have too many hard feelings about what we could have done better...

NZ has a lot to learn from Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and other countries that prepared properly and haven’t had to shut down their economies.

As a Chinese living in Auckland, I thought I would be safe here. After the first case detected in the North Shore City about one month ago, people here divided over the virus a lot. Some people were taking it seriously, the other people were not. When I read news and posts from Chinese media, I was so terrified. However when I read news from NZ media like stuff, I felt its not a big deal. I was quite split also. The eventually lockdown is a relief to me. I saw a video, police man already check if people are going out for essential services on street. Also it's grateful we have lots of natural place to go in neighborhood. I do think quarantine here will be much easier than in China.

Good luck in NZ. I'm on Day 12 in Spain. I'm passing the time by learning to cook.

Where will the billionaires flight to next?


Needs a [video] tag

Added. Thanks!

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