The third wave of Covid-19 infections has had a more gradual downward trajectory than the first two but is clearly waning. Recent days have seen less than 10 000 new daily cases reported compared to more than 20 000 at the peak in early July. Combine that with the success of the vaccination programme, which is now consistently delivering over 200 000 jabs a day and over 13 million in total to date, and it is clear we are moving into a better stage of the pandemic – though risks remain.
It is now time to allow more of the economy to get back to work. We have been operating under adjusted alert Level 3 since July. The curfew, restrictions on alcohol sales, capacity of restaurants, conferences, sporting events and other gatherings are impeding important parts of our economy. Borders should be fully reopened. With our economy still struggling to recover, made shockingly clear by the record unemployment figures, we need to free up the economy to act.
Alert Level 2 is the next logical phase to move to. This will require face masks to continue to be worn and the number of people at indoor gatherings to be limited to enable physical distancing. The previous Level 2 included a curfew from 23:00 to 04:00 and required the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres by 22:00. I submit that these curfews are unnecessary now. What is important is physical distancing, not the particular times that people are allowed to be out of their homes. We need an adjusted Level 2 lockdown.