The government's resurgence plan needs to be remarkably different as it deals with panicky people and an opposition party that is on the offensive, unlike when the first cases of community transmission emerged in the country in March earlier this year.
The government has been warning of an impending second wave of Covid-19 in the country for quite some time asking people to be prepared and not panic – something which the opposition National Party had been alleging as an "act of collusion and covering up and not sharing of some critical information."
National Party Leader Judith Collins has not taken lightly that the Prime Minister had gone ahead and announced on Tuesday, August 11 that Auckland region was moving into Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country into Alert Level 2, without "consultation" with her party.
She has come swinging hard on Prime Minister Ardern for not being consulted personally and her Health Spokesperson Dr Shane Retti not being "briefed" by the Minister of Health Chris Hipkins about this immediate health-related response to a situation that is fast emerging.
Added to this, there has been a panicky public - as seen as in chaotic scenes of long queues in supermarkets, motorways, testing centres, and police checkpoints around Auckland supercity – despite the government's repeated warning about an impending second wave in the country.
Second wave of Covid-19 is a different territory for PM Ardern
This is clearly a different territory for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
During the first wave of Covid-19 in the country Ardern had then led a government's public health response, which by all means was a stellar success and had rightly received tremendous accolades at home as reflected in successive polls that were pinning her Labour Party to be able to form next government on its own.
Clearly, the National Party, which had endured that phase of Prime Minister Ardern's end to end coverage on national TV, with a leadership coup and two leaders being thrown under the cull, and a frantic exodus of voters, do not want the same fate repeated.
Therefore, the party under a new leader who revels in a public image of "Crusher" is holding no barrels back and attacking the government, not only on the issue of public health management but also on the politics around elections.
Should parliament be dissolved now, and elections held as scheduled or postponed is the question that was thrown in the ring, on the very next day when the government first announced new cases in Auckland and change of Alert levels.
This when added with people - who are panicking, and surprisingly not just for their health and safety, but also with a seemingly trivial issue of availability of food and groceries in the shelves of supermarkets, despite a repeated appeal for calms and a well-proven experience from the earlier lockdown under Alert Level 4 where the food and essential supplies were always in abundance – complicates the matter for the government.
This level of panicking and anxiety might further get exasperated after 13 new cases being detected in the Auckland region (from the same cluster of South Auckland family) on Thursday, August 13.
How is this going to pan out when they will once again continuously served with, a possibly increasing number of Covid-19 cases, as was the case last time when the virus was in the community, especially with an opposition which is seeking blood for what they allege as government's abject failure in preventing the second wave of coronavirus.
Will there be national solidarity behind the PM in the second wave of Covid-19?
To make it more challenging the previous feeling of national solidarity that had encapsulated Prime Minister Ardern during her leadership of public health crisis might be significantly missing, and if the opposition's messaging has any meaningful impact – even trust in the government might be eroded.
Clearly, the government would need to show that it's resurgence plan is remarkably different not only in managing the public health side, but also managing the politics around it, purely because NZ is sitting on the cusp of general elections, which naturally brings bouts of "head-on bouts" between the government and the opposition.
There have been few glimpses where the government has shown an intent to do things differently, especially in letting Director of Public Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield impose section 70 of the health act and forcing employees of two businesses to stay home and not go to work for the risk of spreading the virus, along with making public announcement directing employees of those two businesses at the centre of new covid-19 infections.
Winston Peters defends govt's position against Judith's charge
Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has for the first time come to assist his Prime Minister in rebutting National Leader Judith Collins siege on her by saying that there was neither a convention nor precedence of any power-sharing between the government and opposition.
"There is no convention for power-sharing such as Ms Collins, a trained lawyer, is claiming. She should know better. So who is giving her that advice and why is she taking it? Mr Peters said.
"The current government continues to have full powers to govern until the election," Mr Peters said.
However, regardless, this is clearly not enough, and the government will have to shape its resurgence plan and the communication around it in a manner that deals with both crisis – the second wave of Covid-19 and the opposition's charge of ineptitude, collusion and covering up.
It does not mean though that it's a free run for Leader of Opposition Judith Collins, as she also runs a huge risk of burning goodwill for coming up with charges of conspiracy against the government, which so far has a stellar track record of managing Covid-19 pandemic.