Immediate action needed to avoid further lockdowns

Cabinet should agree today to match Australia’s schedule and fast-track the vaccination of all frontline workers and border staff, including those who work in MIQ, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop say.

“Vaccinating our frontline border staff is an economic and moral imperative,” Ms Collins says.

“Those who work in and around quarantine must be vaccinated as quickly as possible to protect New Zealanders from the harm of further restrictions or lockdowns.

“The highly contagious new strain that is sweeping the globe is coming closer and closer to our shores. We have already seen it break through our border with significant consequences.

Five hundred thousand people depended upon the wage subsidy when the economy was forced to shut down in 2020. About 65,000 people lost their jobs and that number is growing, Ms Collins says.

“For many, the cost of another lockdown would mean they lose their job, their business or their home. Our geographical isolation shouldn’t allow the Government to be complacent.”

National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says New Zealand’s vaccination schedule is miles behind the rest of the world, despite the Government repeatedly saying we are ‘at the front of the queue’ for receiving vaccines. 

Last week, Singapore said it would vaccinate 13,000 workers in the aviation and maritime sectors. Australia has said its frontline workers will be vaccinated within weeks.

“New Zealanders don’t deserve to be left behind,” Mr Bishop says.

“We were told last year that our relative success in fighting Covid-19 would not mean we would be late in receiving vaccines. But, as with so many things, the Government has not been able to deliver.”

The Government should also make vaccines available to all vulnerable New Zealanders who need it by the end of March, Mr Bishop says.

“Kiwis deserve to know their Government is acting with urgency. They deserve action now.”