Navigating through Omicron

We need a new strategy to safely steer New Zealand through the Omicron wave and out of endless restrictions, Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“The Omicron variant has arrived and case numbers are set to increase rapidly in the coming weeks and months. The situation has changed so it is sensible to update our strategy.

“We can’t rely on what worked in 2020, and we certainly can’t make the same mistakes the Government made in 2021 that led to an $8 billion lockdown, thousands of Kiwis not even eligible for a booster shot yet, and thousands more shut out of their own country.

“Many Kiwis will be worried. National believes we need to take steps to ensure the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed, minimise disruption caused by isolation requirements, and allow as much freedom as possible with the help of vaccine boosters and rapid antigen tests.

“We need vastly more access to rapid antigen tests. The Government should make them available in pharmacies, supermarkets and anywhere else so that all Kiwis, including students, have the ability to be regularly tested.

“Rapid testing helps our communities stay safe by quickly identifying Covid and ensuring those with the virus stay home.

“National would provide every school with sufficient rapid tests to conduct twice-weekly surveillance testing for all students, teachers and staff, like they’re doing in New South Wales and Victoria.

“We also need to change isolation periods. Thousands of Kiwis will get Omicron – to keep our communities safe we need to make sure people actually go out and get tested, and this will happen less when isolation can be for up to 24 days as under the Government’s current plan.

“Isolation should reduce to seven days for identified cases and close contacts – a period in line with many other countries. This will ensure we continue to slow the spread of Omicron while still allowing communities to keep functioning.

“Finally, we need to end the lottery of human misery that is MIQ. It no longer makes sense. Soon, thousands of people with Omicron will be isolating at home while fully-vaccinated Kiwi citizens who are overseas and don’t have Covid are blocked from coming home.

“It isn’t right. We need to reopen to the world – to Kiwis first and then to others who are fully vaccinated and have had a negative rapid test.

“National would ensure we safely navigate our way through Omicron so we can start to restore our freedoms, reunite families, and address the many other long-term problems facing New Zealand.”