Matt Heath: The Covid Chat Red Card System – the cure to the Covid conversation


1. Engaging in long, tedious discussions about the Covid-19 virus.

New Zealand was once the home of great chat. Nowadays, we just prattle on about Covid. The Covid Chat Red Card System offers Kiwis hope. It’s the key tool we have to protect people from the spread of boring Covid-19 conversations.

Two years ago, the people of our great nation talked about cool stuff like weather, sport and what we were watching on Netflix. After a few drinks, things naturally turned towards sex, more weather and telling strangers at urinals “I really love you man, you’re my best mate”. Excellent topics, good times. Then out of the blue the bug hit and entertaining conversations died. All discussions were instantly infected with the virus.

The Covid Chat Red Card System (CCRCS) will slow that spread.

What we put into our brains shapes what comes out. We talk a lot about Covid because we hear nothing else. New Zealand media is riddled with the virus. That’s the way it should be. They have key info to share, questions to ask and products to sell. When we’re not absorbing Covid from the news, it remains in the forefront of our minds thanks to QR codes, vaccine passports and border restrictions.

Then there’s social media transmission. Unsurprisingly, online is a cesspit of Covid bollocks. There are people all over the country scoring own goals by Coviding away on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter. It’s a simple equation. If you feed on virus chat 24/7, it’s bound to come out both ends at Christmas dinner.

The Red Card System is a Covid chat protection framework. A pathway to eliminating virus talk. The Red Card System empowers kiwis to bring a yellow and a red card to all social occasions. If someone mentions Covid, show them the yellow. That’s a warning. If they do it again, it’s a red, and the guilty party must leave the room, yard, or beach for 10 minutes. It’s a clear message to Kiwis: bring up Covid and you’re outta here!. If we all do our part, we can return to a normal way of talking.

The yellow card acknowledges that no one is perfect. One slip-up is understandable. Someone might ask “what you have been up to?”. The knee-jerk answer for Aucklanders is “nothing, my whole city was locked down for four months”. That’s a yellow. You have accidentally mentioned a Covid-adjacent word: “lockdowns”. The yellow gives you a chance to learn, assess and adjust. If you mention Covid again, you are gone — 10 minutes on the bench, no sympathy.

Egregious offending will earn a red card immediately. If, for example, you arrive at a BBQ and ask “how was your lockdown?”. You will be shown the red straight away. That is a cynical infraction.

The following terms will earn you a card at all social occasions: Delta, Omicron, vax, anti-vax, team of five million, Bloomfield, Wiles, Baker, Hendy, modelling, the border, MIQ, alert level, breach, Hipkins, traffic light, Brian, announcement, announcement of an announcement, Hannah and Tamaki. Use any of these words, and you are out.

Covid restrictions have taken a lot from New Zealand. Let’s not lose our summer to Covid chat. It’s time Kiwis re-learnt the art of wide and varied conversation. Together we can enjoy each other’s company free from Coviding.

It’s two cards for summer fam, two cards for long days and warm nights. Two cards is the key, two cards to gather whānau, two cards to share a feed. Two cards to have a sing-a-long, even two cards to do the deed.

Stand up Aotearoa and find something more interesting to talk about than Covid.

• I have red-carded myself for writing this article.

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