Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield ahead of Monday's alert level announcement. (Photo by Robert Kitchin - Pool/Getty Images)

Exclusive poll: Seven out of 10 back NZ sticking with elimination strategy

And a growing number are concerned about opening up too quickly, according to the latest in a series of nationally representative polls by Stickybeak for The Spinoff.

There was a discernible shift in tone from Chris Hipkins on Sunday. Speaking on Q+A, the Covid response minister said the doubly contagious delta outbreak “raises some pretty big questions about what the long term future of our plans are”. He added: “We’re still aiming for elimination at this point and I think we do need to give it a really good go and see if we can drive [Covid-19] out again.”

It sounded as though the elimination strategy – “Covid Zero” as it is sometimes, not infrequently pejoratively, described – may itself be at risk of getting stamped out. Everyone from the Australian prime minister (“We can’t stay in the cave”) to respected New Zealand commentators reckoned it was simply unsustainable.

Speaking on Monday, however, Jacinda Ardern was clear that New Zealand was sticking with the elimination strategy, an approach that the advisory group chaired by epidemiologist Sir David Skegg earlier this month urged the government to stick with as it inched towards reopening to the world.

“For now, everyone is in agreement: elimination is the strategy. There is no discussion or debate among any of us about that, because that is the safest option for us, while we continue to vaccinate our people,” she said. They would, however, be seeking advice from experts “going into next year” and asking: “Does it change our approach going forward?”

On that, she is in agreement with most New Zealanders, according to our latest nationally representative Stickybeak poll. A month ago, when we asked whether elimination is the right approach, 56% said yes and 17% said no. In our new survey, which was conducted from the day after the lockdown began through till Sunday, 69% said yes and just 10% no.

As we revealed on Monday, 84% supported the move to alert level four lockdown.

Opening up

We also asked about "opening up". Specifically: As far as "opening up" to the rest of the world is concerned, was New Zealand going too fast, too slow, or about right? In July, 64% reckoned the pace was about right. That's now fallen to 59%. The more substantial shift is among those who think we're opening up too quickly, up from 21% to 30% – an increase influenced, presumably, by recent scenes in Australia and the near certainty that the New Zealand outbreak stemmed from an arrival from Australia.

MIQ pilot

One of the plans that the government laid out in response to the Skegg report was a pilot scheme, pencilled for the last quarter of this year, that would allow approved travellers who meet a range of criteria (including being fully vaccinated, pre-departure testing and arriving from a relatively low Covid territory) to undertake their isolation at home, rather than a government facility.

More people like the idea than don't, but there's a fair bit of uncertainty.

About the study

Respondents were self-selecting participants, recruited via Facebook and Instagram. A total of n=629 sample was achieved of adults in New Zealand. Results in this report are weighted by age, gender and region to statistics from the 2018 Census. For a random sample of this size and after accounting for weighting the maximum sampling error (using 95% confidence) is approximately ±3.9%.

The study went into the field on Wednesday August 18 and was completed on Sunday August 22.

Numbers are rounded, so will not always add to 100%.

About Stickybeak

Stickybeak is a New Zealand startup that uses chatbots to make quantitative market research more conversational and therefore less boring for respondents. Unlike conventional research which uses panels of professional paid responders, Stickybeak recruits unique respondents fresh for each survey via social media.  Its nationally representative poll questions people in 34 representative demographics. It operates globally and has run thousands of polls in every region of the world (to be fair, not Antarctica yet).


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