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Editor’s Note: Here below is a list of the main issues currently under discussion in New Zealand and links to media coverage. You can sign up to NZ Politics Daily as well as New Zealand Political Roundup columns for free here.

Today’s content

Govt Omicron strategy, NZ moves to red traffic light setting
Richard Harman (Politik): Revealed; the Government’s three phase Omicron plan (paywalled)
RNZ: Next two phases of Omicron response to be revealed
Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): I hate to say I told you so, but well
Gordon Campbell (Werewolf): On the ethics of Omicron treatment, plus a playlist
Brigid Delaney (Guardian): A letter to New Zealand, from Covid-ravaged Australia
Zane Small (Newshub): 2022 is ‘year of the hangover’ due to COVID-19 lockdown and borrowing – ACT leader David Seymour
Herald Editorial: A case for cautious optimism (paywalled)
Herald: Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas praises Jacinda Ardern’s pandemic response
Herald: Trevor Mallard responds to Dan Wootton’s criticism of Covid response

Isolation rules
RNZ: Isolation rules should ease once Omicron takes off, more rapid antigen tests needed – Baker
Dileepa Fonseka (Stuff): What’s the strategy behind testing and isolation now that Omicron is in NZ?
William Hewett (Newshub): Guide to COVID-19 isolation: What you can, can’t do if you’re infected or a contact
Jordan Bond (RNZ): Industries warn of expected shortages due to close contact isolation rules
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Some essential workers will be able to get out of isolation with a rapid antigen test; 80 million on order
Zane Small (Newshub): Jacinda Ardern’s critics denounce ‘whopping 24-day isolation rule’
Anneke Smith (RNZ): Businesses will struggle to cover 24-day leave for isolation of Covid contacts – Lawyer
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Isolation rules could ‘cripple’ hospitality, education sectors
Kylie Klein-Nixon (Stuff): A guide to looking after yourself – or someone else with Omicron – at home

Testing; contact tracing
Emma McKay (Newstalk ZB): Australian epidemiologist warns NZ not follow their mistakes when it comes to RATs
Jenna Lynch (Newshub): Ministry of Health tells GPs and pharmacies to stock up on COVID-19 rapid antigen tests
Michael Neilson (Herald): PCR testing capacity increased by 20,000 a day with outbreak looming
RNZ: Covid-19 testing capacity increased with rapid antigen and robots
Amanda Cropp (Stuff): After almost 6 million tests, an Omicron explosion will heap more stress on exhausted laboratory workers
Sir Ian Taylor (Herald):  The rapid Covid tests we should be using already (paywalled)
Matthew Scott (Newsroom): Without a trace: Contact tracers miss two cases

Kim Moodie (RNZ): New mask rules for Covid-19: Exemptions and resisters still a problem, Retail NZ says
Rahul Bhattarai (Herald): Restaurant owners slam the Government’s mask mandate policy as an ‘absolute joke’ (paywalled)
RNZ: Checkpoint: Covid Response Minister on new mask rules under Omicron
Thomas Manch (Stuff): ‘No more scarfs, bandannas’: Government to require N95 or surgical masks for workers under vaccine mandates
RNZ: N95 masks ruled out for public as mask policy updated
1 News: Michael Baker wants mask use for children as young as 2
Jamie Morton (Herald): Should we be masking 2-year-olds?

Health system braces
1 News: Little: Health system has ‘capacity’ to deal with Omicron case
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Government urged to fast-track Covid-19 medicine before Omicron surge
Nicole Bremner (1 News): DHBs making plans as they brace for Omicron surge
Cate Broughton (Stuff): Canterbury could get up to 4000 new cases per day at Omicron peak
Joanne Naish and Cate Broughton (Stuff): No cloth masks, separate entrances, testing visitors: How hospitals are gearing up for Omicron
RNZ: Staff at Motueka clinic linked to Omicron cases advised not to isolate
Stephen Forbes (Local Democracy Reporting): South Auckland GPs brace for surge in Omicron cases
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Matt Doocey calls for youth mental health summit

Vulnerable populations
Maxine Jacobs and Mairatea Mohi (Stuff): Māori batten down the hatches as Omicron scratches at their doors
Mildred Armah (Stuff): Fears Omicron will hit Northland Māori hard due to low vaccination rates

Border, MIQ
Emme McKay (NewstalkZB): Fewer than 900 MIQ rooms available for community cases
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Scrapping MIQ for overseas arrivals when Omicron is widespread would ‘free up badly-needed resource’: DHB report (paywalled)
Nadine Porter (Stuff): Border restrictions shouldn’t lift until Omicron wave passes – experts
Katie Scotcher (RNZ): Border reopening plan: Stranded New Zealanders to learn about self-isolation scheme soon
RNZ: Cook Islands travel bubble with NZ stays open despite Omicron

Cases, locations of interesting
RNZ: Covid-19 update: 25 new community cases, including 10 of Omicron
Harkanwal Singh (Spinoff): The Spinoff Covid tracker: live graphs telling the story of the pandemic in Aotearoa
Herald: Pukekohe wedding had up to 500 people, says guest
Herald: Nearly 1000 people isolating after contact with Omicron case
RNZ: Flat Bush rest home residents, staff return negative results after Omicron case
James Perry (Māori TV): Resilient Motueka getting on with life despite Omicron’s arrival
Sophie Trigger (Herald): Third case detected in Palmerston North
1 News: Another Air NZ flight named as Omicron location of interest

Vaccination, Vaccine Pass
Martin Van Beynen (Stuff): Stuff sting catches Rangiora signwriter making fake vaccine passes
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Jacinda Ardern unconcerned for safety after anti-vaxxers yell abuse at her car, force it to drive on kerb to escape
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Medsafe decision on Novavax vaccine due in two weeks

Economy, Business
Irra Lee (1 News): Negative RAT will soon allow critical staff to return to work
Katie Todd (RNZ): Red light setting, fewer customers stressing business owners
RNZ: Checkpoint: How power stations will stay running under mass isolation
Riley Kennedy (ODT): Working from home not compulsory under Red setting
ODT Editorial: ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’
Daniel Smith (Stuff): Trucking lobby makes desperate plea for more drivers
Riley Kennedy (ODT): No need to move cargo north: Port
Benn Bathgate (Stuff): Mixed fortunes for accommodation providers in wake of red traffic light, Omicron fears 
Vanessa Phillips (Stuff): NZ events sector needs more Govt support, says Nelson mayor as Opera in the Park is cancelled
John Anthony (Stuff): Air New Zealand preparing for ‘bumpy few weeks’ as it braces for Omicron wave
Aimee Shaw (Herald): Gloom looms over capabilities of NZ’s grocery supply chains (paywalled)
Rahul Bhattarai (Herald): ‘Pretty dire’: Queenstown retailer hit by border closure plans to open in Dubai Mall (paywalled)
Tamsyn Parker (Herald): Are Kiwis financially prepared to face latest variant? (paywalled)
Sinead Gill (Stuff):Cafe owner asks locals not to abandon Omicron-hit businesses
RNZ: Nelson, Tasman residents financially best placed to manage Omicron impact – research
Brent Wilton (Newsroom): NZ needs to move fast to put the ‘S’ into ESG
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Billion dollar Covid spend forces Treasury accounting change (paywalled)
RNZ: Services sector unable to shake contractive tone – BNZ economist
Sarah Robson (RNZ): BNZ finds 12,000 abusive online banking transactions over six months
Andrew Barnes: (Herald):  The outdated legislation hindering economic progress (paywalled)
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Big electricity users fear ‘repeat of last year’ as wholesale prices climb 

Cancellations, restrictions
RNZ: Rātana celebrations pivot to online event in bid to help faithful stay connected
RNZ: Waitangi Day: Treaty grounds will be closed to the public
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Waitangi Treaty Grounds to be closed on Waitangi Day
Eda Tang (Stuff): Move to red disrupts culturally significant events for New Zealand’s East Asian community
Sam Brooks (Spinoff): Turn out the lights: After two years of hurt, can live arts recover from red?
RNZ: Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival cancelled
RNZ: Auckland Lantern Festival cancelled for third year
RNZ: Major Taupō cycle event cancelled again due to Covid-19 red light setting
RNZ: Sport grappling with shift into Covid-19 red light setting
Hayden Meikle (ODT): ‘Massive financial hit’ for Highlanders
ODT: Difficult but ‘right decision’ to cancel Challenge Wanaka

Protests, Rule breaches
Herald: Prime Minister says protesters targeting her van was ‘just another day’
Herald: Video shows protesters target Jacinda Ardern’s van in Bay of Islands
Herald: Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki’s High Court appeal over custody decision looms

Dawn Duncan and Andrew Geddis (Spinoff): The worrying implications of the Tova O’Brien decision
Lydia Burgham (Herald): Tova O’Brien on ERA decision in restraint of trade case: ‘I don’t have any regrets’
David Burton (Stuff): Covid-19 and an epidemic of burnout: Employers have obligations to staff at risk of stress
Vanessa Phillips (Stuff): Pick Nelson-Tasman to work, campaign urges

Parliament, parties
Greg Presland (Standard): Weird stuff Jacinda Ardern has been accused of
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Controversial businessman Troy Bowker makes $35,000 Act donation (paywalled)

RNZ: Government orders portable air cleaners for schools – Minister
Ben Strang (Stuff): Government ‘negligent’ over school ventilation as Omicron arrives
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Government orders 5000 air cleaners for schools, but just 500 will be ready by March
Dubby Henry (Herald): 5000 Samsung air purifiers ordered for NZ schools
Chris Keall (Herald): Questions after local firm shunned in school ventilation tender
Wei Shao (Stuff): Young kids at higher risk from Omicron outbreak due to poor ventilation at daycares
Karanama Ruru (Stuff): Keep schools open during Omicron outbreak, paediatricians say
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): ‘Kōhanga kids are changing Māoridom’ – Dame Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi
Graham Adams (Basset, Brash, Hide): Follow the money: matauranga Maori and the millions at stake
Elizabeth Rata (Newsroom): Science or ideology? The NZ university at the crossroads
Jonathan Killick (Stuff): Omicron fears boost new online school roll, attracts 200 teacher applicants
Ellen O’Dwyer (Stuff): Hutt Valley High’s ‘toxic’ buildings to be replaced with 26 new classrooms

Anneke Smith and Sam Olley (RNZ): Compensation payouts or behaviour requiring police response not ‘centrally recorded’ by Kāinga Ora
Stephen Forbes (Local Democracy Reporting): Trust calls for more social housing in the face of Omicron outbreak
RNZ: Privacy Commission to crack down on landlords collecting intrusive information
Geraden Cann (Stuff): NZ home loan borrowers face doubled interest as 60pc of mortgages up for renewal
Hamish Rutherford (Herald): ‘Meaningful drop’: Conditions in housing market could be ripe for prices to fall (paywalled)
RNZ: Residential real estate value reaches $1.72 trillion in last quarter of 2021

Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami
John Minto (Daily Blog): Tonga is still being used and abused by New Zealand
RNZ: Covid-19 confirmed aboard HMAS Adelaide enroute to Tonga
RNZ: Concern about psychological trauma amid Tonga’s recovery
RNZ: Forum launches Pacific appeal for Tonga

Local government
Toby Manhire (Spinoff): ‘I think it’s time’: Efeso Collins commits to run for Auckland mayor
RNZ: Unvaccinated Thames-Coromandel mayor chairs meeting remotely
Herald: Thames Coromandel District Council softens vaccine policy, unvaccinated works can attend ‘critical’ meetings
Glenn McLean (Stuff): Council vaccine mandate does not include children
RNZ: Unvaccinated Christchurch council staff lose jobs
Steven Walton and Amber Allott (Stuff): Thirteen Christchurch City Council staff lose jobs over vaccination status
Susan Botting (Local Democracy Reporting): Whangārei District Councillor apologises after partner’s alleged parking, traffic infringements
Luisa Girao (ODT): Thousands of speed tickets cancelled
Andrew Marshall (ODT): Accusation outside interests hold sway at ORC
Grant Miller (ODT): Public’s view on one-way system is clear, AA says
Anne Gibson (Herald):‘Cliff failure’ seawall proposal raises concern: Civic leaders on North Shore building project
Joel MacManus (Stuff): Porirua council threatens to confiscate bins from shoddy recyclers

Three Waters
Te Maire Tau (Spinoff): Might isn’t always right: What three waters haters misunderstand about democracy
Martyn Bradbury (Waatea News): How to turn Three Waters into a vote winning issue

George Block (Stuff): Bus marshals: Auckland Transport adds onboard safety officers after assault
Nikki Mandow (Newsroom): Air NZ refuses credit to cancelled festival goers
Louise Ternouth (RNZ): Petrol prices get closer to $3 a litre
Stuff: Dunedin Railways backtracks on plan to sell off stock

Nathan Cooper (The Conversation): Covid will dominate, but New Zealand will also have to face the ‘triple planetary crisis’ this year
RNZ: Transition away from fossil fuel vehicles needs more work – expert
Kevin Trenberth (Newsroom): Climate: NZ’s role on spaceship Earth
Andrea Vance (Stuff): NZ Govt’s proposal to overturn ban on trawl gear will ‘kill more albatrosses’, critics say
Tracy Neal (ODT): Helicopters unexpectedly blocked from Abel Tasman
Ethan Griffiths (Herald): Rotorua company fined $27K for allowing pig effluent, carcasses to flow into Lake Rotorua

Mike Houlahan (ODT): ‘Wait and see’ was lethal
RNZ: Multiple hospital staff failures in care of woman who died, inquiry finds
Brooke van Velden (Herald): Why Govt’s health remedy is a fail
Catherine Groenestein (Stuff): Taranaki among DHBs struggling to meet safe staffing accord
Elspeth McLean (ODT): SDHB’s reaction indicates colonoscopy saga not over
Maddisyn Jeffares (Hawkes Bay Today/Herald): Smoking and vaping ban for Hawke’s Bay beaches, rivers, and outdoor dining proposed
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Pokies association wants better results from gambling addiction services

Foreign affairs
RNZ: Ukrainians in New Zealand call for government to put political pressure on Russia
Thomas Manch (Stuff): NZ calls on Russia to reduce ‘risk of severe miscalculation’, as troops mass at Ukraine border
Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): NZ investors win carve-out from US foreign financing rules

Hamish Cardwell (RNZ): Rising cost of living in Aotearoa may trigger civil disobedience, social service says
Naomii Seah (Spinoff): What it’s really like to not have enough
Anuja Nadkarni (Newsroom): The immigration reset: ‘The Government waited to see which industries squealed’
Arena Williams & Stuart Smith (Stuff): The welfare of our children is far too important to get wrong
RNZ: Damage assessments underway in Cook Islands
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): Dame Naida Glavish: The country made ‘Kia ora’ acceptable
Māori TV: Ngāi Tahu welcomes national stewardship land panel on to Arahura marae
Esther Taunton (Stuff): ‘Absolutely barbaric’: MPI investigating pigs’ transport conditions



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