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New Zealand Is So Good at Social Distancing, Not Even the Prime Minister Can Break the Rules

Illustration for article titled New Zealand Is So Good at Social Distancing, Not Even the Prime Minister Can Break the Rules
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Here in the United States, we can’t even convince our nation’s “leaders” to wear masks while visiting covid-19 patients, lest they look like little wusses who don’t want to spread a vicious and frightening virus. In New Zealand, which has already successfully managed to mitigate the virus’s first wave, social distancing is taken so seriously even the prime minister can’t break the rules for a flat white.

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CNN reports that on Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, were turned away from a cafe in Wellington that had hit its social-distancing capacity. Last week, New Zealand gave the OK to open cafes, and restaurants, provided they space out tables and keep low levels of capacity to comply with social distancing rules. Apparently, Gayford didn’t consider that this would make it harder to get into a cafe on a weekend, Prime Minister and First Fiancé or not.

They did get in eventually:

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It took New Zealand a total of 49 days—46 of which consisted of a nearly full lockdown—to get new covid-19 cases down to nearly zero, with a total of 21 deaths in a nation of 4.9 million. Ardern plans to slowly reopen the country, with restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, shopping malls getting the go-ahead last week and schools restarting on Monday. (Bars have to wait a little longer.)

Meanwhile, the United States has 1.52 million woefully undercounted confirmed cases, nearly 90,000 deaths, an incoherent federal response, small pockets of protests, states clamoring to restart their economies even with climbing deaths and case counts, and leaders who’d rather listen to conspiracy theorists than scientists. I suggest we turn the latter group away from all the cafes when they open, at capacity or not.

Night blogger, author of GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO PEOPLE YOU HATE.

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This is just all round a lovely little story for our weird and dispiriting times...