Coronavirus: Health experts feel censored over alternative lockdown plan

A group of health experts who believe the Government's lockdown response has been too harsh say they feel censored, with the Government and even the media disinterested in any dissenting voices.

They're concerned the Government is getting all its scientific advice from an echo chamber as it prepares to decide our immediate future on Monday.

For the past month, New Zealanders have been told to stay at home in order to save lives.

But the 'COVID Plan B' group of epidemiologists are not singing from the same song book.

Dr Simon Thornley, a senior epidemiology lecturer at the University of Auckland, believes New Zealand should move to alert level 2 rapidly. 

"I believe that this has been an overreaction and that locking down New Zealand for too long is going to create more problems than we're going to solve," he tells Newshub.

"For most of us, in the general public, we'll actually do very well if we see the virus."

But it's a view few have been willing to listen to.

"I think there has been some censorship of alternate views throughout this period," Dr Thornley says.

Newshub emailed the Health Minister to ask if their decision to go into lockdown had been challenged by any of their health advisers - but got no official response.

With a wide range of opinions or not, Cabinet is facing a tough decision on Monday that will have to walk a tightrope between saving businesses and jobs and saving lives.

"We know that businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water and any extension is going to make things incredibly difficult," says Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen.

"I think tomorrow's decision is a really close line call, and I don't know which way it could go to be honest."

An extension of the lockdown could be disastrous for restaurant owners.

"It'd be gruelling when it comes to the financial situation of our businesses and of our staff," says restaurateur Krishna Botica.

If the rules are relaxed to alert level 3, construction sites could turn their tools back on and restaurants could sell takeaways, putting financial reprieve back on the menu.

"It's still only 10 to 15 percent of where our revenue normally sits and for any industry and any business, you can't operate on that,  but it means we're going backwards a little bit slower than we were," Botica says.

One thing is for sure, no one envies Cabinet's decision to keep the streets quiet or not.