Time has run out on Government’s incoherent Covid strategy

The Government’s incoherent and timid approach to the Covid pandemic shows it lacks the courage required to make tough decisions for the benefit of New Zealand, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.

“Today’s announcement confirms what most New Zealanders – especially Aucklanders – have come to learn only too well over the past seven weeks of lockdown: The Government is completely out of ideas.

“Elimination has failed but, while the Prime Minister says we’ve now moved to a ‘transition’ stage, the strategy is fundamentally unchanged.

“The Prime Minister’s supposed roadmap to recovery is nothing more than a vague wishlist she tinkers with as dictated by the situation she reacts to. Where is the vision?

“The fact is that Jacinda Ardern has no answers to problems that she and her Government promised us were under control. The situation is now, very clearly, out of control and worsening every day.

“As a result of their incompetence and their incoherent supposed ‘strategy’, New Zealand is stuck in a lockdown limbo with no answers and no way out.

“Enough is enough. Time has run out. The PM must admit she and her Government have failed. Own up to your mistakes. Change direction. Be bold. There are choices.

“We will help in any way we can. Indeed, our ‘Opening Up’ plan, if immediately adopted, could see an end to lockdowns and Kiwis able to travel again by Christmas.

“The country deserves answers and a clear way past Covid. We have provided this to you. Take it onboard. New Zealand needs it more than ever.

“We can open up with a vigorous suppression strategy. This shifts our focus from the border alone to one where technology like rapid antigen testing is used to quickly identify and isolate cases.

“Had this approach been used at the Auckland boundary it’s highly unlikely the virus would have spread into the Waikato and beyond.

“The Government’s approach is the worst of both worlds. We have the all the costs and harm of a lockdown without the benefit of eliminating Covid.

“Kiwis need to see the Government’s detailed plan now. It is not fair to ask more than two million people to live in a lockdown conditions without an end goal in mind.

“If the goal is get 90 per cent of eligible Kiwis double-vaccinated, then we are looking at least another six weeks of lockdown. This can’t be the Government’s only plan.

“Adopt National’s Opening Up plan. Use new technology and treatments to avoid lockdowns and supress Covid, while turbocharging our vaccine rollout.

“The Government’s one-dimensional approach is costing the country more than $1 billion a week. Businesses are being shuttered at breakneck pace. The numbers of people on benefits have exploded. Mental health services are swamped. This is a crisis.

“Do the right thing, Prime Minister, and be kind to Kiwis who are desperate for answers.”

You can read Opening Up: National’s plan to tackle COVID-19, end lockdowns and reopen to the world here.