april20updates

Live UpdatesApr 20 2022

547 people in hospital with Covid, 14 in ICU

Kia ora and welcome to live updates for April 20, 2022. Our usual updates editor Stewart Sowman-Lund is having an extended Easter holiday, so today and tomorrow you can expect a pared-back updates brought to you by deputy editor Alice Neville and a selection of other Spinoffers.

Here’s what’s been happening today:

  • New Zealand and Singapore have launched a working group to tackle supply chain issues.
  • There are 547 people in hospital with Covid-19, 14 of whom are in ICU. Case and death data is unavailable due to a technical issue at the Ministry of Health.
  • Top health officials told the government MIQ wasn’t justified in November.
  • National leader Christopher Luxon says another holiday, such as Labour Day, should be axed to cover the extra cost of the new Matariki public holiday.
  • $12,000 in fines a day are coming from one Auckland bus lane.
april20updates

547 people in hospital with Covid, 14 in ICU

Kia ora and welcome to live updates for April 20, 2022. Our usual updates editor Stewart Sowman-Lund is having an extended Easter holiday, so today and tomorrow you can expect a pared-back updates brought to you by deputy editor Alice Neville and a selection of other Spinoffers.

Here’s what’s been happening today:

  • New Zealand and Singapore have launched a working group to tackle supply chain issues.
  • There are 547 people in hospital with Covid-19, 14 of whom are in ICU. Case and death data is unavailable due to a technical issue at the Ministry of Health.
  • Top health officials told the government MIQ wasn’t justified in November.
  • National leader Christopher Luxon says another holiday, such as Labour Day, should be axed to cover the extra cost of the new Matariki public holiday.
  • $12,000 in fines a day are coming from one Auckland bus lane.
Apr 20 2022

Covid-19 latest: 13 deaths, 11,217 new community cases

The Ministry of Health’s IT network issue has now been resolved and the remainder of today’s Covid-19 update is available.

There have been 13 deaths of people with Covid-19, which takes the total number of publicly reported deaths to 615 and the seven-day rolling average to 12.

One of the people who died was in their 40s, two were in their 50s, four were in their 60s, three were in their 80s and three were in their 90s or older. Five were female and eight were male. One was from Northland, one was from Auckland, one was from Waitematā, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from MidCentral, one was from Taranaki and one was from Nelson-Marlborough. Two were from Hutt Valley, two were from Whanganui and two were from Canterbury.

Meanwhile, there are 11,217 new Covid cases in the community, the highest daily number in almost two weeks. “The number of reported community cases is expected to continue to fluctuate day to day, but the overall trend remains an overall reduction in reported cases,” said the ministry.

As reported earlier, 547 people are in hospital with Covid-19, 14 of whom are in ICU.

NZ and Singapore launch working group as supply chain issues set to intensify

New Zealand and Singapore have launched a working group to tackle supply chain issues, the prime minister has announced on her final day in the island nation.

The move comes amid fears the hard lockdown in Shanghai will have dire consequences for supply chains, which have already suffered two years of disruptions due to the pandemic. It also comes as the government releases a paper that sets out the problems the sector is facing, and some potential solutions.

Speaking from Singapore, where 20% of New Zealand’s exports go through, Jacinda Ardern said the working group would have three areas of focus: enhanced sharing of data, digitisation and building resilience. “By working together we can see the free-flowing movement of critical goods and services,” she said at a press conference this afternoon.

Shanghai’s lockdown is already impacting New Zealand’s meat exports and is likely to result in longer lead times on tech and electronic imports, according to reports.

In comments made via the Science Media Centre, Dr Mesbahuddin Chowdhury, senior lecturer of operations and supply chain management at the University of Canterbury’s business school, said reducing New Zealand’s dependency on China was crucial. Entirely cutting China out of the supply chain, as the Biden administration is aiming to do, may not be feasible for New Zealand, but we “may need to think of alternative sourcing in the coming days”.

Dr Bill Wang, senior lecturer in supply chain management at AUT Business School, meanwhile, said “we should have confidence in the NZ-China supply chain recovery capacity. Both parties, especially China, have experts, advanced technology, infrastructure, and mature supply chain management systems.”

Three New Zealand books make Big Jubilee Read list

Over the weekend, British charity The Reading Agency announced the Big Jubilee Read, a list of 70 novels, short story anthologies and poetry collections published in the Commonwealth, to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee (that’s 70 years on the throne). An expert panel of librarians, booksellers and “literature specialists” chose the 70 titles from a readers’ choice long list, with 10 books for each decade of the Queen’s reign.

Among those 70 works of literature, which span 31 countries and six continents, are three novels by New Zealanders: The Bone People by Keri Hulme, The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Other books on the list include A Clockwork Orange, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Remains of the Day and Wolf Hall.

The list has come under some fire for excluding the work of JK Rowling (presumably for Harry Potter, not her subsequent work), who herself has made headlines for close to half a decade for her controversial/incorrect views on transgender people.

You can read the full list here.

547 people in hospital with Covid-19, 14 in ICU

The Ministry of Health’s 1pm update today contains only hospitalisation numbers, not the number of deaths of people with Covid or new community case numbers. This is due to “an IT network issue”, and the statement will be updated “as soon as the additional information becomes available”.

There are 547 people in hospital with Covid today, 14 of whom are in ICU. This is a decrease from yesterday’s number of 572, 19 of whom were in ICU.

Today’s 547 hospitalisations are spread across the country, with 41 in Northland; 92 in Waitematā; 82 in Counties Manukau; 83 in Auckland; 38 in Waikato; 22 in Bay of Plenty; seven in Lakes; 17 in Taranaki; nine in Whanganui; four in MidCentral; 12 in MidCentral; four in Wairarapa; 18 in Hutt Valley; 15 in Capital and Coast; nine in Nelson Marlborough; 49 in Canterbury; four in South Canterbury; one in West Coast; and 40 in Southern.

$12,000 in fines a day coming from one Auckland bus lane

A single bus lane in Auckland’s Newmarket generated $4.3 million in fines during 2021, RNZ reports.

Cameras along the 160m stretch of the Khyber Pass bus lane nabbed 29,000 vehicles driving more than 50m, with each issued a $150 fine. This works out to almost $12,000 a day.

The 2021 figure is three times more than the number of fines issued in the same stretch from November 2016 to November 2017, as reported by Stuff in 2018.

Auckland Transport’s group manager of parking services, John Strawbridge, told RNZ that extending the bus lane operating hours and the use of automated cameras had played a part in the increased number of fines generated.

More people driving instead of taking public transport over the Covid-19 pandemic had also played a part, he said.

“These figures are huge,” AA’s policy director Martin Glynn told RNZ. “The numbers you outlined are about 10% of all revenue across all the enforcement activities last year, that includes all parking fines.

“Something’s not right and it needs to be looked at.”
Auckland’s Khyber Pass Road bus lane (Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly)

Axe Labour Day holiday, says Luxon

National leader Christopher Luxon says another public holiday, such as Labour Day, should be cancelled to make up for the cost of the new Matariki holiday.

Speaking to RNZ’s Morning Report, Luxon said the Matariki public holiday, this year to be held on June 24, will cost the country $450 million.

He said National supported Matariki being a holiday, but the cost needed to be covered somehow. “Look, it’s a great idea, but which of the other holidays are you going to cancel?” he asked. “We’re very supportive of Matariki; why don’t you cancel Labour Day?

“How do you throw $450 million of extra cost on business at a time when you’re dealing with cost of living and inflation the highest it’s been in 30 years and higher than any of our trading partners?

“New Zealand is not doing a good job of managing inflation domestically at the moment because the government is addicted to spending. It’s just spend spend spend.”

As reported in this morning’s Bulletin, the inflation rate is tipped to hit a 30-year high of 7% when it’s announced tomorrow.

Luxon told Morning Report the government had been blaming international factors for adversely affecting inflation but Singapore is at 2%, Australia is at 3.5% and Japan is at 1% while dealing with the same challenges.

All ministers should be going through their budgets to see where any wasteful spending could be cut, he said. “We don’t need cuts to spending and public services but we do need to make sure that with any wasteful spending or any incremental new spending, we’re getting a return from it.”

Christopher Luxon (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Harry Styles is coming to Aotearoa

Fresh from a headlining performance at Coachella that included a duet with country star Shania Twain, Harry Styles has confirmed that he’ll be visiting Aotearoa next year.

The former One Direction star is set to perform at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on March 7, with Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg in support (it doesn’t sound like Twain will make the trip). Tickets go on sale on April 27, with pre-sales kicking off the day before.

It will be the ‘Watermelon Sugar’ singer’s first stadium show here, after a performance at Spark Arena in 2017. Styles was originally scheduled to visit Spark Arena as part of his Love On Tour in 2020, a performance that was scrapped due to Covid-19 restrictions.

It’s a big step up for Styles, who joins a smorgasbord of A-list pop stars coming to New Zealand, with Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Lorde all scheduled to perform by the end of next summer.

Harry Styles
Harry Styles and Shania Twain perform at Coachella. ;(Photo: Getty Images)

After two years off, today’s announcement is further proof that a “traffic jam” of major international artists is trying to get back out on the road. “Every act in the world has not been on tour for two years. It’s the way they make their living,” promoter Paul Dainty recently told The Spinoff. “There’s a gridlock of acts trying to tour.”

That means there could be many more announcements over coming weeks. Already today, Styles has confirmed his tour, Teeks has announced three performances with the NZSO at Wellington’s St James in June, and Perfume Genius has announced two shows in Auckland and Wellington in June.

Styles recently sparked headlines by performing ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ at Coachella with Twain in matching sequins. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, with Pitchfork described his headlining performance as “cardboard-stiff”.

Read our full report from Coachella or ‘Couchella’ here.

Questions raised over health system reforms

Before everyone dashed off for Easter, the health select committee published its report on the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, the bill that will create the new structure for the health system reform. Newsroom’s Marc Daalder reports on concerns from the mental health sector that “mental health is invisible” within the bill. Richard Harmon at Politik has also raised questions (paywalled) about whether there’s been a backtrack on the power of veto for the Māori Health Authority, while the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network expressed disappointment at rural communities not being identified as a priority population group. The bill will now go back to the house for a second reading.


We’re being watched, everywhere, but why?

Farah Hancock at RNZ has undertaken an extraordinary amount of work for this feature on CCTV use in New Zealand, sending Official Information Act (OIA) requests to over 100 organisations and mapping the location of 10,000 CCTV cameras across the country. Hancock speaks to privacy experts and civil liberties advocates who are concerned that not all authorities are adhering to the rules of use for CCTV cameras laid out in the Privacy Act. If we are trading our privacy to feel safer, Hancock reports there’s been very little assessment of their efficacy in crime prevention.


Reducing the risk of buying an apartment and creating more of them.

After several years, a bill that seeks to address the more complex issues that have come with apartment ownership is close to passing into law. The bill was initially championed by then National MP Nikki Kaye before being handed over to Judith Collins and Nicola Willis. As Newsroom’s Sam Sachdeva reports, the bill has had significant changes made to it since it was first introduced but Willis is hopeful it will make people feel more confident about choosing apartment living. In Auckland, submissions have opened on proposed changes to the Unitary Plan which are aimed at meeting government mandates to increase housing supply.


Days without spiders.

Callum Bindon is not a fan of spiders, he doesn’t like their legs, and has been trying to keep his Dunedin flat spider-free. He’s been spraying the outside of his flat and keeping track of how many days the flat has been spider-free.  He’s even made “[Insert number] Days Without Spiders” signs. As the Otago Daily Times reports, People have been taking photos of the sign and posting it online, in solidarity with Bindon’s mission to be spider-free, but popularity comes with a price and thieves have been stealing his signs. A man battling on two fronts is left with little choice, so, perhaps drawing inspiration from “Home Alone”, he and his flatmates have built an alarm system, comprised of rocks, bells, bottles and string to alert them to thieves.


This is an extract from The Bulletin by Anna Rawhiti-Connell. Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

Top health officials agreed MIQ wasn’t justified in November

Public health officials agreed in November last year that managed isolation and quarantine was “no longer justified” for most returnees, according to a government document released to RNZ.

But it wasn’t until March 2 that the MIQ requirement was dropped for most travellers – three-and-a-half-months later, a period during which there were seven voucher lotteries and 40,000 MIQ stays.

According to the document, public health director Caroline McElnay wrote to director general of health Ashley Bloomfield seeking his agreement to an updated public health risk assessment, which she wanted to reflect that “the risk posed by international arrivals transmitting Covid-19 is no longer higher than the domestic transmission risk of Covid-19”.

McElnay asked Bloomfield if he agreed the risk was no higher, and if so: “Managed isolation for border returnees would no longer be justified on public health grounds as the ‘default’ for people travelling to New Zealand.”

Bloomfield agreed, and said he would brief Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins, and start creating a plan for making self-isolation the default requirement for returnees.

In a statement to RNZ, the Ministry of Health said the staged and managed removal of MIQ requirements was delayed by the omicron outbreak. “During December and early January 2022 the MIQ system continued to play an important role in managing the arrival of an increasing number of border cases with omicron, and delaying community transmission of the variant in New Zealand as we increased vaccination levels in the population.”

The Ministry of Health initially refused to release the document after it was requested under the Official Information Act, but it was released after a review by the ombudsman.

University of Waikato law professor Al Gillespie told Checkpoint the delay between the government receiving the advice and MIQ requirements being removed raised serious concerns, and people who paid thousands of dollars to stay in MIQ, or missed out on a spot and weren’t able to return home, may be entitled to compensation.

Speaking to Morning Report this morning, deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said the memo from the public health officials was received on November 15, after which the advice was peer reviewed. “It was agreed that we needed a careful transition, and the ministry announced it would make the transition in January, then omicron arrived, which pushed that date out a bit. This is the system working how it should. I think the right decision was made.”