“A series of announcements about molnupiravir and vaccine mandates failed to hide the fact that the Government still doesn’t have a clue what happens next or how to get out of the current lockdown,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Now that the Government has given a vaccination deadline to health and disability workers and teachers, it should set one for the whole country.
“The Government should say that on 1 December everyone will have had a chance to be vaccinated, then New Zealand opens up. In the meantime, it should say that alert levels three and four will not be applied to any suburb that reaches 90 per cent in the meantime.
“Why did Auckland go to Stage 1 last week but not Stage 2 this week? There is no logical reason given. They are making it up as they go.
“Northland’s ‘short, sharp’ lockdown was never sustainable. It takes five days to get infectious and two days to process a test. Four days was never going to help. Once again, a region has been messed around for no reason.
“How did the Northland cases get through the border, what kind of exemptions did they have and which company sponsored them? Did they have no official exemption at all, but hoodwink the cops with a forged one? So many questions and so few answers, and without acknowledging the problem there is no way the Government can fix it.
“The Government is caught between its old eradication strategy that no longer works, and a new strategy that isn’t ready. Chaos is filling the void. A clear deadline and an action plan to reduce transmission, hospitalisation, and death from COVID-19 would give people the certainty they need.
ACT’s full COVID 3.0 plan says that with the eradication strategy no longer viable, there needs to be a change of approach, based on five movements:
1. Recognise that eradication no longer stacks up. We must move to a policy of harm minimisation. This policy should aim to reduce transmission, hospitalisation, and death from COVID at the least possible cost of overall wellbeing.
2. Move from isolating whole cities to isolating only those who it makes sense to isolate. Personal isolation should be restricted to three groups: those who are medically vulnerable and require special protection, those who have recently arrived in New Zealand and are privately isolating, and those who have tested positive as part of widespread surveillance testing.
3. Move from chronic fear and uncertainty and get on a clear path to restoring freedom. We should settle when the vaccine rollout is ‘complete’ and aim to get Kiwis home for Christmas.
4. Move from a ‘government knows best’ approach to an approach of openness, and host all in ‘sprints’. In each sprint, the business community and all of society are invited to help reach clearly identified goals of lower transmission rates, hospitalisations and deaths, in time for reopening.
5. The entire tone of New Zealand’s COVID response should shift from fear and a singular focus on public health to a focus on maximising overall wellbeing.