Ryan Bridge: Government's logic indicates summer travel not on the cards for COVID-stricken Auckland

OPINION: Folks, I've got some bad news. 

Rhythm and Vines will surely have to be cancelled.

Aucklanders planning on heading to their bach up north or in the Coromandel... cancelled.

Jaffas seeing their loved ones out of town for Christmas... cancelled. 

That is, IF we are to follow the logic of the Government at Thursday's press conference. 

Remember, Aucklanders have been teased with the chance of leaving the city for their Christmas break. As recently as last week, the Prime Minister told me that they're working on a plan to help get us out of the big smoke for the holidays.

We'd have to be double-jabbed and COVID-negative, but we could be out of here for Christmas!

But then came Thursday's announcement for Kiwis stranded overseas. The Government says they're not allowed into the country, even though they too are double-jabbed and COVID-negative, without first going through managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ).

Here's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins being asked about it on Thursday:

"At the moment, we still don't have cases all over the country in the way that we do in Auckland, so the risk settings are different. We don't want to accelerate the spread of COVID-19 out of Auckland by prematurely making changes to the international border. So what you have seen in my remarks just now and in the statement I've put out, is that we are linking that to moving to the new traffic light system," he said.

"So once we get those higher rates of vaccination, at that point, I think you'll start to see a bit more change at the border. It is linked to our ability to tolerate extra numbers of cases popping up in New Zealand, and that's where vaccination will play a role."

So in other words, vaccination rates are too low in most regions, and we can't let double-jabbed Kiwis - even with negative test results - into these regions without first going through a MIQ facility. This is until the first quarter of next year. It's not safe. The risk is too high. 

If you're wondering what this has to do with Auckland, well, on that logic - why would they let Aucklanders into those same regions, even with both jabs and a negative test?

That means after a third of the year in lockdown, Aucklanders aren't going to the bach, a beach out of the city, or a festival in Gisborne. And would the likes of Rhythm and Vines even go ahead? 

Here's organiser Hamish Pinkham when I asked him a few weeks ago if the event could still happen without Aucklanders:

"Fifty percent [of our attendees] are from Auckland, so no, we need the country to be open. We won't be in a position to hold it if the country's fragmented," he said.


Now, maybe there's something I'm missing in the logic here. Maybe the Government has pulled the middle finger to Kiwis overseas, but will say Aucklanders are allowed to visit the regions without isolation - even when others can't.

But it's hard to see how. And let's face it, based on current uptake, some of these areas are not likely to hit 90 percent vaccination by Christmas. Some will, but not all. So are they going to trigger the traffic light system for some areas and not others?

I'm not saying Rhythm and Vines will be cancelled, or that Jaffas will be stuck in their prisons for summer too. I'm saying on the basis of this logic, it seems inevitable. 

What we need from the Government on Friday is clarity and honesty.

Here's a message to Chris Hipkins - give it to us straight bro. Is the summer roadie for 1.5 million people cancelled or not? 

Ryan Bridge is the host of The AM Show.