Where People Work, Mistakes are Made

A recent couple of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, following almost a month of no new cases, just goes to show how vulnerable any country is to further outbreaks of the virus. As you would expect there are plenty of recriminations going round about how this happened.

When I was at school, we had an older bookkeeping teacher. He was Dutch and originally came from what is now Indonesia. During the Japanese invasion in World War 2 of what was then the Dutch East Indies, he was captured and spent most of the war in an internment camp. He always gave off an air of toughness and tolerated no-nonsense in his class. However, below that no-nonsense exterior, you could sense an underlying kindness. While I have long forgotten most of what he taught, I still remember something he would occasionally say, and that is – “Where people work, mistakes are made.”

There is little doubt that in the case of the latest Covid-19 victims, mistakes were made.

I think that these two new cases of the virus (with another case in the last couple of days) highlight just how vulnerable any country is to more bouts of infection. China, for instance, has just had a new outbreak in Beijing after being clear for 55 days. We may have to get used to the idea that there may be more outbreaks, despite everyone’s best intentions and supposedly foolproof systems.

“Where people work, mistakes are made.”

I would think that these new cases also bring into question just how realistic is it that we reopen our border with Australia.

Daily, Australia still has ongoing new infections. As far as the Pacific Islands are concerned, the risk is the opposite. We could export pre-symptomatic cases to them, which if leading to an outbreak, could overwhelm their medical systems.

This vulnerability will continue until, if or when there is a vaccine, and it has rolled out to most of the population.

If we are committed to New Zealand being Covid-19 free, then holidaying at home and supporting local businesses may be the new norm for a great deal longer than what we first thought.

There is little doubt that there is going to be a massive hit to both the New Zealand and worldwide economies. However, I believe there may be potential upsides.

Travelling within New Zealand, rather than holidaying overseas, may in time strengthen some regional economies. However, it is hard to see much good news for the likes of international resort centres such as Queenstown.

With New Zealanders spending more money locally, expect to see some innovative products and services make debuts.

Expect to see local communities come out stronger as people change their focus from rushing off overseas to valuing what there is at home. Examples of this are something we are already experiencing here at River Valley. It is locals who are now regularly booking groups in for dinner. Sometimes, because they have heard, it is a great meal, other times to show their support.

Talking of showing support, when I visit our local town of Taihape, I am often asked how we are doing. Being approached and asked this is humbling because you realise that people really do care.

For the foreseeable future, some form of localism is going to be our new reality. Let’s concentrate on the positives.

Brian Megaw

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