"The Prime Minister should reactivate the forgotten ‘roadmap’ and move Auckland to Step 3 of Alert Level 3,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“As of last Tuesday, Auckland as a city was at 90 per cent single and 77 per cent fully vaccinated. If it makes sense to move to the traffic light system when those second doses catch up with first doses in a few weeks, then it makes sense to start taking small steps towards reopening now.
“Step 3 would mean hairdressers could open with strict protocols, shops could have customers inside with two metre social distancing, cafes could let people sit down with strict protocols. That ability to operate would make little difference to public health at this point, but a world of difference to the livelihoods of so many small businesses.
“Visiting Auckland businesses this week, particularly retail, hospitality, and services that would be benefit most from Step 3, I saw, heard and felt how the current restrictions are affecting them after eleven weeks.
“I saw one small business operator after another doing their best to operate under current restrictions. They are putting on a brave face behind the mask. Their revenues are often down 80 per cent, they are losing money every week. I heard that there are people borrowing from relatives, running up against their mortgages, and holding out paying suppliers to stay afloat.
“If the Prime Minister visited Auckland and saw what I’ve seen, Auckland would be at Step 3 of Alert Level 3. The Prime Minister is stuck in the Beehive where her advisors’ salaries are paid by the taxpayer every fortnight without fail. They are not explaining and cannot explain the raw reality faced by Aucklanders.
“One woman told me her petrol tank had been punctured by thieves the night before. She said crime stories like this were becoming widespread in her suburb as desperation spread. Another told me that, while she could have people over for a picnic, she wasn’t bothering because nobody does anything so there’s nothing to talk about.
“Hairdressers told me that they have the ability to safely lift the mood of a depressed city one cut and one colour at a time, but they are not allowed. Meanwhile, they report that desperate colleagues are doing cutting hair underground. It would be better to let salons operate with strict safety protocols at Stage 3.”