It’s no longer an eternity, it’s an Ardernity

Mon, 21 Mar, 2022

“Once again the Prime Minister has made an announcement about an announcement, leaving us waiting an Ardernity for a decision,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Cabinet made the decision about restrictions today. Jacinda should treat us like adults and tell us what it is.

“Instead, our staged managed Prime Minister has decided she cares less about New Zealanders desperately waiting to the hear the decision and more about the podium time. People have lost their jobs over mandates and are excluded from parts of society but none of that seems to matter to Jacinda Ardern.

“This morning on Today FM, Health Minister Andrew Little did something usually frowned upon by our Government. He told the truth. When asked “If restrictions are lifted now, the mandates, the passes, the gathering limits, will hospitalisations go up?” His answer was “the modelling shows no.”

“The whole point of the restrictions was to save the health system. If it’s no longer doing to that then they should go. There’s no need to wait for tourists, just do it now.

“This morning Jacinda told Radio NZ that waiting another 48 hours “just gives us a bit of time post-Cabinet that any changes we need to make are all tidied away before we share those details 48 hours later.”

“If Cabinet has decided, it has decided. Just tell us what the decision is.

ACT’s Move On plan proposes:

  • Scanning and contact tracing: Contact tracing creates relatively minor costs, but also delivers negligible benefits because it does not reach enough potential contacts or reach them fast enough in light of Omicron’s higher transmissibility. It results in some people isolating because they are “pinged” but often not in time to prevent them from transmitting the virus. The resulting isolation that comes from being pinged is a growing disaster for business and supply chains. The requirement for businesses to display codes and have people scan in should be dropped, along with the requirement to contact trace cases, because it’s just not working. Dropping these requirements would be an important symbol that we are moving on and getting our way of life back. It should be done immediately.
  • Mask requirements: Well-worn and high-quality masks can help prevent spread. Mask wearing likely has significant benefits for reducing the spread of Omicron, although this is sensitive to mask quality. While extremely irritating, it is one of the few current policies where it is reasonable to believe that the benefits outweigh the costs.

  • Boosters: Relative to a two-shot regimen, booster shots significantly reduce the likelihood of death and serious illness due to COVID-19. There is a limited cost. Boosters are an important way to reduce the costs of the inevitable spread of Omicron through the community. Nonetheless, given most of the benefits of booster doses go to those who get boosted, there is little case for mandating them.

  • Vaccine requirements: It is difficult to justify a vaccination mandate purely on the grounds that it reduces hospitalisation risk for unvaccinated people themselves and thus pressure on the health system. This effect has already reached saturation. Unless a new requirement for boosters is introduced, mandating is having negligible effect on vaccine uptake and should be dropped immediately.

  • Traffic Light Framework: The Government has dashed large events and hospitality businesses at enormous cost with little consideration for what the benefits might be. If they have cost-benefit analysis for Omicron, they have not presented it. We have been asked to accept these restrictions with no idea whether they will leave us better off or by how much. Unless the Government can show the benefits of restricting large events in an Omicron environment, in terms of reducing the peak demand on hospital capacity, the Traffic Light System should be dumped immediately so we can all move on.

“It’s time to move on from fear and control. It’s time to get our lives back.”