A significant part of the economy is one that isnt riddled with debilitating respiratory illnesses too.
Im not sure we really know where the balance between those two competing factors is just yet.
This is the call the various governments need to make, what we can see is varying approaches around the world:
1) Go down the NZ approach and go full eradication of the virus which means that they won't open up the borders until other countries basically have zero community transmission,
2) Go down Australia's approach which is a suppression strategy where you get the numbers down initially and then accept and manage any ongoing cases. This means a much earlier opening of borders than NZ.
3) Go down Europe's approach and start opening up borders even though the virus isn't fully under control.
4) US/Brazil - Don't give a hoot about the virus and open up the economy and rely on people to practice social distancing.
Whilst people were understanding of the initial need to lockdown, the uptick in cases in Victoria shows people are beginning to run out of patience with the restrictions. If you go down NZ's route, their borders may not open up for another 6-12 months. I'm not close enough to NZ's economy, but their central bank is considering negative interest rates for the economy, so it's evident that NZ's economy has taken a big hit. Our economies are so reliant on the international movement of people and capital, so simply shutting yourself off to the rest of the world would result in a significant drop in GDP.
Ultimately we live in a capitalist society, where money makes the world go round. Would we all accept a material reduction in our standard of living if it meant that the vulnerable people in the population are spared from the virus? - That is the million dollar question....