There are a few side effects of this virus. Firstly, it appears that a member of our cabinet met an Australian Cabinet minister and is now self isolating ... and we have six confirmed cases as of today. This has led to the prayers against Brendon Tarrant being called off.
A statement released about 1pm said the event, to be held at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch at 3pm tomorrow, was expected to attract a large crowd, with many travelling from around New Zealand and from overseas.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while there was no community transmission of Covid-19 in New Zealand, a precautionary approach to protect the health of all New Zealanders was being taken.
"This is a pragmatic decision. We're very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn't create the risk of further harm being done.
"The advice we received for this event, is that based on people travelling from different parts of the country and from overseas, if there was a case it could be difficult to trace those who had come into contact with that person, so we are taking a cautious approach.
"March 15 now becomes an opportunity for every New Zealander to reflect in their own way on the events of a year ago. I encourage everyone to take time on Sunday to remember and to recommit to the values of inclusion and love demonstrated so clearly a year ago."
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the decision was made to cancel the event given the rapidly changing environment around Covid-19.
"Tomorrow, we can still reflect on the incredible ways the community came together in response to the events of that tragic day, and think of ways that we can build on the compassion and unity that was so poignantly shown in our city, across the country and throughout the world."
Overnight a few things:
- A cruise ship that visited my town yesterday -- with the usual trips to the bit I live on (we have an Albatross Colony and a Victorian grand home nearby) is now quarantined while passengers are tested for COVID 19 -- this has been reported as negative, but that's the end of cruise ships.
- GPs can now do the test without asking for Ministry of Health approval, if the person is symptomatic. But that is late in the disease cycle: you are infections before you are symptomatic.
- Australia has also said 14 days self isolation on returning from overseas.
- And we have got eight cases, one in the South Island (a Dane: thank you very much).
There will be an economic hit. I'm aware there is contigency planning for this. Right now what you need to do is
- Wash your hands.
- Avoid people and gatherings.
- If you feel sick, stay home.
Kea has done a final shop. I've got to work if I can, against my nature: the idea of a fortnight not interacting with managers appeals to this introvert. Overnight Sunday, the restrictions came into force and this was in today's paper. (I own Air NZ shares: now worth pretty much what I paid for them in the global financial crisis).
Air NZ has placed itself in a trading halt as it assesses the financial impact of global travel restrictions on business. The airline will be a smaller airline requiring fewer resources, including people. It is cutting its long haul capacity by 85 percent, and suspending flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from the end of March to the end of June. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank has announced an emergency official cash rate cut. The central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point, to support the economy against the impact of the Covid-19 virus. In the wake of the outbreak, health officials have also ramped up their presence at airports as tougher travel restrictions came into force today. From 1am today all travellers who enter New Zealand, except from Pacific Island countries, must go into isolation for 14 days.
This morning the issue is getting everything set up for distance work. I'm not traveling unless absolutely necessary. I am installing remote clients and VPN for work on my work laptop. Church is moving to three online services on Sunday, assuming (as do most businesses) that there will be a ban on any large meetings. Hearthie tells me that her part of Southern California is in lockdown already and the kids home from school. Final preparation is done. Now let us pray that we miss the storm.