The ongoing nightmare of the Level 3 lockdown in Auckland continues with no hope on the horizon, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.
“The Labour Government clearly has no plan, no ideas and is providing no hope for Aucklanders.
“People tuning into today’s 4pm pronouncement from the podium were expecting some semblance of a plan about the pathway forward for Auckland. Instead, they got more of the same: announcements about announcements to come later in the week, and self-congratulation about Super Saturday.
“All of this on a day spent by many Aucklanders on tenterhooks, after Dr Ashley Bloomfield publicly floated the idea of Auckland returning to a hard Level 4 lockdown this morning – speculation about which the Government then allowed to fester all day.
“Across the Tasman, state and territory leaders are outlining clear and easily digestible plans about loosening restrictions on people at various vaccination levels. Why is the Prime Minister waiting until Friday to do this for New Zealanders?
“Why should Aucklanders spend the week wondering about the vaccination target and what it might mean for their freedoms, for their businesses and for their kids?
“The Government’s belated recognition of the necessity of setting a vaccination target is overdue. National has been pushing for formal targets for months now. But Aucklanders need clarity now and shouldn’t be forced to wait for yet another 4pm podium announcement on Friday.
“The Government is once again making things up as it goes along. The Government is utterly bereft of ideas, having spent the first six months of this year in self-congratulation mode, happy to have the developed world’s slowest vaccine rollout and spending the Covid Response Fund not on contact tracing, saliva testing and boosting ICU treatment, but on art therapy and cameras on fishing boats.
“Unlike Labour, National has done the thinking about a vigorous suppression strategy, where we work to minimise the number of Covid cases in the community but accept they will be there. We call on the Government to urgently scale up saliva testing capability, order vaccine booster shots and next generation Covid treatments, roll out rapid antigen tests particularly to essential workers crossing alert level boundaries, and urgently implement National’s specialist healthcare workforce migration plan.
“The Government also needs to move heaven and earth to roll out effective vaccine authentication as quickly as it can. Every week it fails to deliver this forces unneeded restrictions on fully vaccinated Kiwis.
“It makes no sense to keep the hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders who are now fully vaccinated at home.
“Likewise, the South Island remains at Level 2 despite having no Covid cases for nearly a year. There was some rationale for this when only around 20 per cent of South Islanders were fully vaccinated. But, two months on from the initial restrictions, many part of the South Island have high rates of vaccination that should allow for an easing of restrictions.
“Finally, I urge the Government to publish the health advice which so far it has refused to do, despite repeated calls for it to do so. Independent public health experts are confused by the Government’s approach, and who can blame them.
“New Zealand can start to reopen to the world, end lockdowns and cope with Covid, but only if the Government starts showing decisive leadership. A good place would be to pick up National’s plan and start to implement it.”
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