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The Project host Lisa Wilkinson has described Australia’s handling of COVID-19 as a “bin fire”, particularly when compared to New Zealand’s.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced tougher restrictions from midnight Sunday in an effort to combat the growing spread of the Omicron variant, moving the nation to an alert level of red.

The new restrictions mean that household close contacts may be forced to isolate for 24 days, while anyone with Covid must isolate for 14 days. While lockdowns are no longer a possibility, masks are mandatory on public transport, in retail environments, and for children above grade four in schools. In addition, there are capacity limits on retail, and hospitality and gym venues, as well as weddings, can have up to 100 people.

The government has stated, however, that if the new restrictions don’t stop the spread, then it will change the rules and stop trying to prevent every case.

Meanwhile, Australia has embraced a much more laid back approach, which some have described as “letting it rip”.

Ardern even confirmed the cancellation of her own wedding, announcing, “My wedding will not be going ahead, but I just joined many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic.

“And to anyone who’s caught up in that scenario, I’m so sorry. Such is life.”

Wilkinson was amazed at New Zealand’s new rules, exclaiming, “Wowee – 24 days! If that doesn’t give you an indication that Jacinda Ardern has looked across the ‘ditch’ at our bin fire and gone, ‘Not doing that!’ Wow!”

Ardern said of New Zealand’s approach, “Our plan for managing Omicron in the early stage remains the same as Delta, where we will rapidly test, contact trace and isolate cases and contacts.”

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said, “We’ve just gone back up to that in light of Omicron and to help with managing the spread in this early stage. We think we still have a good opportunity to potentially stamp it out or really reduce the Omicron transmission.

“Because it is Omicron we have taken an approach at this point in time where we are isolating contacts of close contacts initially until those close contacts return that negative day five test, then those second tier group of contacts can go about their normal day.”

Image: The Project

This article first appeared on OverSixty.