As of midday today, Auckland once again proceeded to Alert Level 3, while the rest of the country proceeded to Alert Level 2. Naturally, this comes with great disappointment and fear about what the future holds.
Though the Government has announced that the move into the respective Alert Levels is expected to last until midnight Friday, we could reasonably predict an extension. Especially given the uncertainty around the source of the confirmed cases, and their widespread movements throughout the community, it is likely to last at least two weeks. This would accord with what the Government decided after Level 4 ended, in the seemingly distant past – 2 more weeks at Level 3 before we could attempt to return to normality.
Naturally, one fears what impact the current move will have on our economy. Compared to when the first wave hit, around late March to May, the impact should not be nearly as bad. International tourism, export and education have not suffered any new impact. Nor is there renewed impact on the world economy.
We also need to remember that we are only at the very most (for now) at Alert Level 3. We are not in Alert Level 4 lockdown. Most office-based businesses will be able to switch to a working-from-home arrangement. Businesses can trade, albeit without physical contact with customers. If workers cannot work from home, workplaces may open, provided they are operating safely (and not allowing customers on the premises).
Of course, if employees cannot work from home, and the business cannot open (due to safety issues or otherwise), then employees are not ready, willing and able to work. As such, they are not entitled to be paid. However, employers and employees may negotiate alternative methods of payment to account for the period. For example, employees may agree with their employers to take annual leave, or other accrued leave entitlements.
This is not like the first time around, where this was all new to us. The first wave prepared us. Educational institutions, workplaces and the like have adapted their procedures to prepare for this day.
We got through this once, and we can do it again. Keep safe everybody, and ensure you keep up to date with the latest, official information.
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