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COVID-19: An ESSEC Alumna Reports From New Zealand

Interviews

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15/07/2020

New Zealand has been COVID-free for 2 months. How did they do? Is the economy safe though? Find out with Caroline Bresson (M12), Market and Customer Insights Analyst at Unleashed Software in Auckland. 

ESSEC Alumni: The whole world has been praising the way New Zealand dealt with the pandemic. How did your country make such a difference? 

Caroline Bresson: New Zealand took action very early compared to other countries. The country went into lock down and shut borders on March 25th, when we only had a couple hundred cases. The government gave companies 3 working days to make arrangements and offered instant financial support to companies and employees (including entrepreneurs), which helped people tag along as they knew they would get help should they lose their job or be temporarily out of work.

EA: How do you explain New Zealand managed the situation way better than many other countries?

C. Bresson: The most significant difference we saw compared to other countries was the government communication spearheaded by Jacinda Ardern, who launched a massive information campaign across all major channels (billboards, TV, radio, Internet ads, YouTube ads, Facebook ads, etc.) and gave daily updates. Every message was based about caring and protecting each other: "Be kind, stay home", "Check in on the elderly or vulnerable", "Unite against COVID-19", "We’re all in this together”, “We’re a team of 5 million”… That might sound cheesy to some, but for New Zealanders it struck a chord. 

EA: What is the current situation in New Zealand?

C. Bresson: The situation is back to normal. We have been declared COVID free for a couple months now, and it's sometimes difficult to picture that it's still raging everywhere else in the world. Borders remain closed until further notice though, except for New Zealand citizens and residents who have to enter a 14 days quarantine in state managed facilities. People are tested on day 3 and 12 of their stay and when positive, they are transferred to another facility.

EA: New Zealand avoided a health crisis. What about the economy though?

C. Bresson: New Zealand’s GDP relies a lot on tourism and tertiary education, and those industries are taking a strong hit even though summer is from December to February here, and university starts in February/March – however we don’t expect the situation to get better by then. Many hotels and restaurants are closing down, especially the small ones. Also, as New Zealand is heavily reliant on overseas trade, we expect 2 more redundancy waves, one when the government subsidies expire (they were extended for 3 months after June), and another one when the global recession hits.

EA: How is the post-crisis period shaping up in your country?

C. Bresson: General elections will be held this September and that will shape a lot of post crisis New Zealand, even though we might not have even passed the crisis yet.


Interview by Veary Ngy, International Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni 

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Image : © Dan Freeman on Unsplash

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