OPINION: After 18 months, no such thing as “short & sharp”


It’s always with a sense of trepidation (largely that I will let the inimitable Ms Roxburgh down) that I begin my Mountain Scene columns.

So here we are, feeling ridiculously happy we are allowed out with 49 of our closest friends to our local bars and restaurants.

How good have you become in identifying people you know just by their eyes?

In the last couple of weeks I have lost count of the number of times I have heard the phrase ‘‘short, sharp lockdown’’ from our Prime Minister and her ministers, such that we can then get back to business.







Well, Prime Minister and Cabinet, after 18 months for many of our small businesses (and some pretty big ones, too) there is no such thing as short and sharp.

They are genuinely suffering an easily-diagnosable disease — it’s called Long Covid.

The symptoms of this disease include having third parties (that you elected in to positions of power thinking they would make good decisions and look after you) regulate to exclude your customers from being able to access your goods and services.

It is also characterised by periods where you think you are finally on the mend with  customers starting to come back, only to abruptly return to your previous state, but worse than before be cause you have burned through your reserves.

Other features of this disease are having jealous, small-minded keyboard warriors tell you this disease is what you deserve, and Ministers of Tourism quoting statistics out of context to convince you that you aren’t as sick as you claim.

Unfortunately, this disease is often confused with the far less aggressive forms known as
Alert Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4, and, as a result, is treated in exactly the same way, with the most common treatments prescribed being a wage subsidy or a one-off dose of resurgence payment.

As with all deadly diseases, this one has evolved.

While originally only sickening or killing the most vulnerable — being our event, hospitality, accommodation and activities industries — this latest round that is imaginatively named Delta, is infecting previously-resistant industries, too.

This strain is not discriminating.

Whether you are an athlete, a chemical engineer, a miner or in export sales, you too are vulnerable.

Your symptoms may differ— for instance, they may include losing your spot in MIQ or having your customer substitute you for a supplier they can see in person and not through a computer screen.

But, either way, the result is the same: a gradual deterioration in reserves that, in some cases, will require intensive care if not ventilation.

And if you had any underlying health problems to start with, you have a much higher chance this will be fatal.

But all is not lost.

Some of the country’s best minds have been working on potential treatments (not the least of which is your local Chamber of Commerce) and there are positive signs from initial  clinical trials on politicians and central government bureaucrats.

As with all research and development projects, some proposals will ultimately not be successful, and sometimes those first to market aren’t always the best treatment.

Today I would like to give a shout-out to those working at the frontline of ensuring accurate diagnoses are made of this insidious disease.

They are fighting the plague of misinformation and protecting the health of what we hold dear.

For that, we thank you.

But there is only so much relief that these new proposed treatments will provide.

Ultimately, it’s vaccinations and reopening to the world that is the ultimate prize.

So, while you head out for a drink or dinner tonight, ask your self, have you done your part?

Are you vaccinated?

Are you a local advocate?

Be vigilant to misinformation, and kind to those affected

Ruth Stokes is Queenstown Chamber of Commerce’s CEO