Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Afternoon roundup

 The afternoon's closing of the browser tabs brings the following worthies:

  • Superb news! The police have taken an operational decision not to waste resource sending helicopters out looking for cannabis plants. Or at least National Headquarters isn't going to resource it any longer. Lots of things are illegal; police (rightly) have limited budgets and so have to make decisions about where to focus their efforts. Flying around in helicopters on gardening operations makes far less sense than putting resource into preventing crimes that actually have victims. 

  • Audrey Young on the slow pace of getting the vaccine out.

  • In any other circumstance, I'd be a bit nervous about Otago Public Health recommendations around smoking policy. But I'm in complete agreement with Baker/Wilson on this one. Shared spaces in MIQ seem crazy risky, and especially so with more contagious forms of the virus coming through. I'm also with them, sadly, on the desirability of reducing intake from risky places - at least until we can get to far more frequent testing of everyone in the border system. It totally can be done. Daily testing of all border staff, through daily saliva-based PCR tests, would mean any infection of MIQ staff would be almost certainly caught before it could turn into community spread. Oh, and Michael Baker also wants rapid testing at the airport pre-departure. It's been feasible for a long time. We could still do it. The Abbot rapid antigen tests are cheap and could be rolled out for use at the departure gate. The government could buy thousands of them, send them out with every outbound flight so that they can be used at the gate pre-departure at every gate departing to New Zealand. Or pick a different test if Baker prefers a different one. At least now that Labour has signaled support for pre-departure testing, folks can talk about it without being attacked by a pile of Labour twitter partisans. 

  • Luke Malpass thinks we can still be aiming for a broader travel bubble, and has this encouraging news about Auckland airport.
    Once the Australian bubble is opened, it is understood that the international terminal will basically become green lane only, while “red lane” flights will land at a separate building and passengers will be bussed to be processed for quarantine, or to a separate area if transferring to another flight. The airport will need two weeks’ notice to get this working.

    The other big issue, which Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has repeatedly raised in public, is how to manage repatriation of both New Zealanders and Australians in the case of a big lockdown. Here, Australia’s federal system should make things easier.

    Should there be an outbreak in a certain part of Australia, say Queensland, the other states would likely close their borders to Queensland. Meanwhile, the bubble could continue in the other states. In addition to this, one option being batted about is getting travellers to Australia to sign a form on departure acknowledging that, in the event of an outbreak, they may have to hunker down where they are for 14 days, should exit flights not be able to be arranged. Vice versa for Australians on these shores. 
    All of this has been entirely obvious as the way forward, for months. Government moves slow.

  • This is fun. SocialBubble provides you with typical twitter feeds as seen by people of various ideological persuasions. You can look at Twitter as though you were a socialist, leftist, progressive, liberal, centrist, moderate, conservative, right-winger, or alt-right person. FWIW, my twitter feed looks closest to the one they identify as centrist. Or at least I recognise the folks in that feed, and a lot of them are the ones I also follow: Neoliberal, Noah Smith, Conrad Hackett, for example. I recognise a lot of the feeds in Socialist too, like Sanders and Jacobin and Existential Comics, but choose not to follow them. I had followed Existential Comics because the comics are often superb, but the twitter feed is just too tedious. 

  • Eden Park will be allowed to operate as a stadium. This is good, not least because it reduces the prospects of anybody throwing money at a new downtown waterfront stadium. 

  • Tyler Cowen asks that you start from your estimates of labour demand elasticities and be consistent about things.

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