‘Short and sharp’ lockdown will be the longest ever

The Government had no choice but to extend the Auckland Level 4 Covid lockdown and ongoing restrictions elsewhere in the country because of its own ongoing failures, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“We must stamp out this current outbreak of Delta and that means there is no alternative to the continuation of the lockdown, hopefully for just one more week,” says Mrs Collins.

“But all Kiwis – Aucklanders especially – deserve a proper explanation about why they have been put in this position in the first place.

“This lockdown will now be the longest ever since Covid hit New Zealand, making a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claims at the start that it would be ‘short and sharp’.

“Auckland is in lockdown and New Zealand is in Level 2 for two reasons: we have one of the world’s slowest vaccine rollouts in the world, and the Government did not prepare or plan for Delta.

“The Prime Minister spent most of this afternoon’s press conference telling people to go and get vaccinated, which must be infuriating to the thousands of New Zealanders who have been keen to get vaccinated since the start of the year but who haven’t been able to due to one of the developed world’s slowest vaccine rollout.

“New Zealand was slow to sign contracts with vaccine suppliers, slow to approve the vaccine, and slow to order. We complacently sat on our hands while the rest of the world got on with the job of getting as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.

“The modelling is very clear: higher vaccination rates means shorter lockdowns. If New Zealand had a higher vaccination rate when Delta hit in August, the lockdown would be shorter and the economic and social costs would be lower.”

Mr Bishop says the current outbreak has exposed the Government’s lack of planning for Delta.

“The Government went into self-congratulation mode for most of this year, and didn’t make the investments needed to get ready for Delta, even while it was raging around the world.

“Saliva testing has taken a year to roll out, rapid testing is banned in New Zealand, and contact tracers have done a heroic job with limited resources. Only recently have we moved to do audits of MIQ facilities in light of the Delta variant.

“Government ineptitude around preparation for Delta and over vaccines has left New Zealand no choice but to continue the lockdown.”