Dr Liz Gordon: UK is a very high risk country – limit travel to NZ now!


The UK is about to do a Bolsonaro.  On the 19th July, that beleaguered nation will shift from a managed Covid response (however weak), to an ungoverned one based on pure libertarianism. Or gibberarianism (another neologism, surely new word of the year?) if you will. This involves the withdrawal of all Covid restrictions by the state on the people at that date.

The philosophy is called ‘personal choice’ or perhaps ‘personal responsibility’.  And the keyword here is personal, because from 19 July the idea that some citizens have some responsibility to show some constraint, for the good of both themselves and others, goes out the window in the UK.

One is forcibly reminded of Thomas Hobbes description of how societies may operate in the absence of government, and which seems particularly apt in the case of Covid 19: ‘… and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’.

Which of course also describes the scenes in Leicester Square after Italy won the cup. No, no just joking.

The British state will thus eschew any responsibility to prevent those vulnerable from getting a first, or subsequent, bout of Covid.  It is true that there is a high level of vaccination in the UK, and well done them for that. But it is also true that the Astra Zeneca vaccine used over there is only around 72% effective and the government is now talking about a third top-up jab in September.

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The truth is, the UK is in a parlous state.  Yesterday there were 36,000 new Covid infections reported. A new wave, based on the Delta variant, is well underway. One estimate is that infections will reach 100,000 per day once all the restrictions are off. No-one denies that there will be deaths, and the media is reporting a lot of fear among vulnerable populations. Oh, to come through this for so long, get the jab, repeat, get protected, get Covid and die!

The only question for us in New Zealand is whether, as numbers soar (and I think that means now, actually), we are going to put the UK on the list of very high-risk countries, currently occupied by India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Brazil.

If you remember, it was the emergence of the Delta variant in India that led to these restrictions being imposed, as large numbers of infected NZ residents started turning up at our border. The restrictions are still in place, with only NZ citizens and their families allowed back in at this time.

The debate at the time was whether this was a racist policy or good public health practice.  Well the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, won’t it? 

I predict that the number of infected people coming in from the UK with the Delta variant is about to start increasing quickly, and indeed may already have done so (since the Hamish Walker/ Michelle Boag debacle, the Ministry of Health has stopped publishing place-of-origin data online, but numbers are increasing).

I predict that, with reluctance, the government will be forced to put the UK on the very high-risk list by the end of the month, thus spawning huge protests from those affected, who thought the policy was only for brown persons.

I further predict that this cesspit of viral mutation (I mean the UK, not Boris Johnson) will spawn a further damaging variant by the end of September, which will be even more transmissible than Delta and against which the vaccines will be less effective. We could call this the Iota variant (as in “Boris doesn’t give one iota about this”).

We (the world) are not by any means out of the woods as yet and, with our low rates of vaccination, New Zealand is particularly vulnerable. Now is not the time to give up and declare game over, but to avidly defend our people through effective border policies.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. Keep the borders closed. Fortress Aotearoa. This is all about money. Money before people. Our economy is going very well with House building at capacity, building supplies stretched thin a good indicator we are close to the limit of growth. Hyper tourism is dead, RIP, don’t open just so a few businesses can prosper at the risk of virus spread. Thankfully the right are not pulling the levers, NZ would be riddled with Covid19.

    • All about money. Thats true. A fishing company imports covid positive crews in order to prioritise profits [slave labour] over community health. So why should the government offer to pay the bill? The company should be charged {both in a legal and a monetary sense] for the problems they have caused.

      • Yes agree kejo we are being taken advantage of we are a soft touch and our tax payers will pay in the meantime we have less money for health services, wages increases etc

    • All about money. Thats true. A fishing company imports covid positive crews in order to prioritise profits [slave labour] over community health. So why should the government offer to pay the bill? The company should be charged {both in a legal and a monetary sense] for the problems they have caused.

  2. “The debate at the time was whether this was a racist policy or good public health practice. Well the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, won’t it? ”

    I’m glad you’ve said it. Of course now that you have, there’ll be a load of PR people and officials looking for ways to spin it. (Those ‘demographic profilers’ are still where they’ve always been)

  3. Boris had no choice, Matt Hancock forced his hand by showing beyond doubt, as Health Secretary, that the rules didn’t need to be followed from which it can be extrapolated that there was no risk to public health. Across the Channel Macron has shown with his forced vaccinations and Nazi-era identity papers that this was about control and pandering to big pharma all along, it’s more about saving face than saving hospitals or lives.

  4. Sweden had minimal restrictions compared to most and overall deaths for 2020 were about 5% higher than 2019 and about the same as 2017

  5. Keep the borders closed. We can’t even keep up our hospital beds and ER demand during normal flu season, let alone if Covid strikes here. Maybe freeze the nurses pay so they can get more ‘motivated’ under the trickle down model… Sarcasm.

    Sounds like more fishers are coming here full of Covid after apparently negative tests. Clearly the process of allowing people to come to NZ after negative tests is not working very well – same happened with India!

    Russian roulette policies strike again.

  6. And the U$A are buying our primary industry farm lands, according to rnz. We’re all going to be a bit fucked really aren’t we ?

  7. The end of any form of lockdowns in the UK is actually consistent with Johnsons now denied outburst where he exclaimed, “No more f***ing lockdowns — let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”

    Boris Johnson nor his government are wired for intervention of this nature and he/they are like dinosaurs the moment the meteor struck. Just carry on as per normal.

    Thing is, confidence by the public in doing business will be severely undermined when vaccinated people start getting ill. But by then it’s all over for the UK and it’s politicians.

    • I do not understand why left leaning NZ people on this forum try to analyze the way Boris runs the UKs response to covid.It is an island of 60 million so it’s wants and needs are vastly different to NZ . I have family in UK and they agree with what he is doing and except that not everybody can be saved. Sad but life needs to carry on the best they can and really for most it has been this way of years .

  8. Ban the UK. Their leader is a buffoon. “With stupidity even the gods struggle in vain” (Schiller).
    “In politics stupidity is not a handicap” -Napolean Bonaparte. “One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not” – Alexandre Dumas

    • Napoleon under esteemed England and their parliment system is the basis for much of the World . We like our leaders to be eccentric it makes life interesting in such a grey country

    • Well, around 63 died yesterday of the virus or complications in the UK. This is not none, especially if it is YOUR loved family member. Further, we should be worried indeed about mutations that dodge the vaccine. Further, the UK seems to want to spread its variants all over the world – there is surely a duty of care to those many countries that cannot afford mass vaccination? Further, the current policies eschew any form of good governance and plonk responsibility right back onto the people – and that will not end well. 48,000 cases yesterday. Long Covid. Issues around vulnerable populations… the reasons for proper policy go on and on. We must be patient and prudent. 18 Months is not ‘forever’, but just a heartbeat in history – one on which we will be judged.

  9. NZ fast becoming the North Korea of the Pacific. Closing off from the world thinking you can just sell houses to each other forever and everything will be great. COVID will be around for 1 million years now in the rest of the world…. Whats your plan geniuses? Keep closed for eternity?

    • New builds and apartments can be bought and sold by anybody in the world. What do you think keeps up the prices?

      Likewise it only takes a year or 2 to be a NZ permanent resident, buy a house here, and there is nothing stopping you leaving the country afterwards and coming and going as much as you please.

      “Zamanian arrived in New Zealand in 2017 and became a permanent resident in 2019.

      He travelled to Iran for three weeks in December to visit family. During the visit he logged on to ANZ’s internet banking app to make payments to IRD, Gem Finance and pay his credit card balance and mortgage.” https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/anz-bank-accused-of-discrimination-for-closing-iranian-mans-accounts-after-sanctions-policy-breach/HGWKQ5OTOIMK5CVYABOKDZIERU/

      120,000 ‘Kiwi’s came back during Covid alone. Kiwi’s may only have been resident in NZ for a very short time and thus need a house outside of normal population demands.

  10. Until now the consistent earner for Big Pharma has been the flu vaccine.
    With coronavirus the vaccinating of the globes population is just the beginning.
    Once the classification of the current outbreak shifts from pandemic to endemic and based on capitalistic principles the cost of the vaccine will increase and the profit explode.
    This will increase the already obvious geopolitical disparity of vaccine access and affordability to a level that the sums just will not add up any more.
    Poor countries who have in the past been forced into a corner by the triumvirate IMF, The World Bank and the WTO and have signed over their states natural resources have very little or no collateral left.
    The likes of Boris Johnson represent the capitalist establishment and the responsibility of social deterioration is transferred to the individual.
    We have a plethora of unwise leaders in the world today and Boris Johnson is in the leading bunch.

  11. Most recent update: 49 deaths in the UK and 51,870 new cases, more than any other country in the world except Indonesia, more even than Brazil and the USA. It is now the world’s Covid virus manufacturing factory.


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