An open letter to our PM.

Greg Cornes
4 min readMay 21, 2021


Dear Jacinda,

As it seems to be the way of the world we are not too far apart. In fact, you and I live close together and your niece and my daughter went to kindy together. However, this covid-19 pandemic is showing that we do not necessarily have to be connected in this way to know we share a common humanity.

I would like to commend you and the government for your leadership and actions to date but unfortunately, I do not believe they are bold enough and this is now putting people like us in difficult positions to make those calls on behalf of our community.

In brief I am a business owner that has worked and sacrificed my whole adult life to build a little group of successful cafes. I have been very lucky to, for the most part live out my dream. So, I do not take any of this lightly but the decision I am coming to far outweighs my dream and hopefully offers the opportunity for others to see out theirs.

I like most people am aware that we are at a pivotal point with regards to the pandemic. History shows that during such times bold calls are needed to be made from all corners of society for the sake of the greater good.

As I understand it South Korea is the only country to have conducted mass testing. The best case-fatality rate I have heard at the higher end is 0.06% drawn from their data by Dr. Amesh Adalja (Infectious Disease specialist, Johns Hopkins University). This still puts it at six times the mortality rate of that of the flu.

In some senses the percentage itself seems small but in actual human cost is still very concerning and likely nothing our generation has seen before. Outside of the mortality rate the hugely concerning aspect of this pandemic is the rate of infection.

This has very wide implications for the public whether they realise it or not. From what we know and not withstanding some exceptions, it appears the most affected are the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. It appears highly likely that this will still affect everyone from children to adults especially if the health system becomes over-run. People requiring “normal” treatment are likely put at risk simply by not being able to be seen.

In fact, it seems clear that the pandemic will work its way through the community and that the most effective way to mitigate the risk is to slow this process down and “flattening the curve”.

One strategy, as adopted by other countries and currently championed by our government is to enforce social distancing. Those countries that delayed such actions until the advent of community spread appear to have done so at a huge toll.

So, it is with that in mind that I urgently request you to close all non-essential business, schools and universities.

In order to close schools and not have children putting elderly at risk we need as many parents and caregivers available as well. In order to do that, other forms of business will need to cease trading or adjust their work environment, which many that have that ability have chosen to do already.

As well as close all non-essential businesses I believe we need to complete an intensive testing programme across as much of the community as we can to then understand the very nature of this pandemic.

This will give us the most accurate set of data for our situation and leave you in a much stronger position going forward to deal with the economy. Which in reality is not going to bounce back effectively until the pandemic is dealt with efficiently.

As a business in this time we have held up relatively well within this evolving market as it currently is well suited to our format. But unfortunately, we, like everyone else cannot guarantee everyone’s health even if we required to pivot in the changing environment.

Unfortunately for us in the hospitality industry the very nature of social distancing goes against the very nature of what we do — our industry is about bringing people together. We are now in a position whereby we are unsure that we can continue to operate with clear conscience, that we are possibly putting our community, staff and families at risk unless soundly proven otherwise.

If we are forced to close on our own moral and ethical terms, I know that I will be compromising myself and my family, but I guess that is a sacrifice one is faced with in such times.

This pandemic is proving itself to be a great equalizer as we are now all faced with these decisions and relative economic costs.

I urgently request that you action this during the course of the immediate future to give us and our nation the best opportunity to firstly deal with the pandemic and then to bounce back from the economic implications.


Greg Cornes.

Published By Greg Cornes

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