Kiwis have hit back at two outspoken commentators in the UK who called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's recent decision to put the country back into red as "deluded and doomed to failure" and "unbelievable".
In a column for the Daily Mail, Dan Wootton, who says he is proud to hold both New Zealand and UK citizenship, gave a harsh assessment of the move calling it "cruel", and saying Ardern is "gripped with the terror that her decision to pursue a Zero Covid policy long-term is unravelling".
"While the rest of the world is finally waking up to the need to live with Covid long-term, New Zealand remains trapped in March 2020, with terror and paranoia enveloping a country that was once famous for producing hard men like Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, fearless rugby giant Jonah Lomu and bungee jump inventor AJ Hackett.
"Rather than preparing for the inevitable over the past two years, socialist Ardern is hamstrung by a creaking health system with less than 200 intensive care beds to service five million citizens," Wootton wrote.
Nigel Farage, the former Brexit campaigner and now host on controversial UK channel GBNews, said: "'There must be something in the drinking water down under, they've literally gone mad."
In his Farage Moment on his talk show he rounded on New Zealand's Prime Minister, calling her the "the darling of the Liberal left all across the Western World, and she likes lockdown".
"Her next proposal is unbelievable after just nine cases of New Zealand she is bringing in new legislation that says if you come into contact with someone with COVID you have to isolate for 24 days."
The 24-day isolation period was also part of Wootton's arsenal of attack against Ardern.
"Many Kiwis have become so brainwashed by Ardern's incessant spin – swallowed whole by a compliant liberal media – that they reacted with a mere shrug when her government at the weekend revealed citizens who are household contacts of anyone who tests positive for Covid will have to self-isolate for a whopping 24 days as part of her 'stamp it out' policy approach."
The 24-day isolation requirement is correct, but it is just one scenario and is for household contacts who don't go on to test positive for Omicron, which given how transmissible the new strain is would seem unlikely.
Both men also referred to the red setting as a form of lockdown, with Wootton claiming we now had work from home orders.
"After just nine confirmed Omicron cases, Ardern then plunged the entire country into red alert, a form of lockdown that bans large gatherings, enforces mask mandates, makes Covid passports compulsory if you want to live normally as part of a 'two-tier society', and reintroduces work from home orders." Wootton wrote.
There is no lockdown under the red setting, and there are no work from home orders.
The COVID-19 website states: "Workplaces can open at Red. If it is appropriate for your job, you can work from home. Talk to your employer about what is appropriate for you."
It is these perceived inaccuracies that have really caught Kiwis' ire prompting one Twitter user to tell the Daily Mail columnist to check his facts:
"You actually learn how the traffic light system in NZ functions. Under the red light status social gatherings are limited to 100 vaccinated people or 25 if vaccine protocols aren’t followed. NZ has actually enjoyed far more freedoms including freedom from Covid deaths than UK."
Another responded with: "You are completely incorrect, we only just moved to traffic light system, at old level 4 nothing was open not even butchers, fruit and vege shops or takeaways or alcohol shops and we are about to get an SS like covid specific "police" that can arrest anyone that aren't police."
Others called the column out as "bullshit".
"Perhaps, just perhaps, those of us who live here know more about it than you? The claims in this article are pretty much 100% bullshit. We’re not in lockdown and the zero Covid policy was a (successful) strategy to keep us safe until vaccinated. 90%+ over 12, kids now underway," one person tweeted.
"The majority of Kiwis are going along with the measures because we are not selfish gits, we put the well-being of our community first. There is so much BS in this story it’s unreal. Don’t feel sorry for us, we’re good thanks," another wrote.
Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard, who Wootton referred to in the column as "an Ardern loyalist from the ruling Labour party" also weighed in.
Wootton referenced Mallard warning "citizens to prepare as if they were facing an 'earthquake' by stocking up on emergency supplies, which helped spark an inevitable run on toilet paper."
To which Mallard replied:
"Known family for 45 years. Admired your father’s work. I know you want clicks but i prefer an approach that values lives especially the old, the young and the vulnerable. We have lost less than 10 per million while UK has lost 350+ per million. Maybe that doesn’t matter to you."
Not all the comments were negative though, some supported Wootton's stance.
"As a NZer I'd like to say how incredibly accurate this article is.
From a business perspective many Kiwis have been crippled, if we travel out of the country for business we cannot return.
Such high hopes were held for Ardern but she basically changed overnight, like a switch," one person wrote.
"As a kiwi living in NZ I want to say Thank You for writing this! The ludicrous idealism of our PM will leave our country so far behind the rest of the world and the unpreparedness and reactive approach shows how poor she is handling this, like all of this Government’s policies."