Northland needs more clarity over border breach - Reti

Source: 1News

National's deputy leader is calling for more information about the Covid-19 case in the region, to help locals rationalise the need for a lockdown extension.

There were tensions in the house once again this week with Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi ejected from the chamber after accusing National of racism.

Dr Shane Reti, who's a Whangārei-based list MP, told Breakfast the Government's decision on Monday to keep Northland in Alert Level 3 at least until 11.59pm on Thursday was "probably the thing to do". 

Northland shifted into Level 3 overnight on Friday after a Covid-positive person travelled throughout the region, having crossed the boundary with a false exemption. 

The woman had refused to tell officials about where she had been during her visit and another woman travelling with her was unable to be located for several days. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed that the second woman is  now symptomatic for the virus after she was taken into police custody at a West Auckland address on Monday night. 

Reti, who's National's health spokesperson, said more information from the Government as to how the case broke through the border would help to give more reassurance to Northlanders.

"Yes it was probably the thing to do because if we get coronavirus in Northland, we're gonna struggle.

He noted that people in the region have been frustrated about the border breach, made worse by the lack of information shared about how it happened. 

"If people understood more about what happened at the border and more specifically that it has been fixed, we can have some reassurance that Northland is safe."

By being more open about what happened at Auckland's border with Northland, Reti said it would help "take some of the sting out of the intrusion". 

Northland will remain in Level 3 until 11.59pm on Thursday, with Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins to announce any decisions on whether to drop alert levels on Wednesday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added on Monday that the low Covid-19 testing rates in the region, as well as vaccination rates, would need to rise significantly before changes to restrictions could be made. 

Over the weekend, just 1.1 per cent of Northlanders turned out for a Covid-19 test, she said. 

Reti told Breakfast the best way of boosting testing and vaccination rates is to "make it easy for people" such as offering drive through stations and targetting hard to reach areas.