Aucklanders in 'despair' over announcements, Judith Collins says

Source: 1News

National says the Government's announcements about vaccination targets and the traffic light system aren't good enough. 

National leader Judith Collins, speaking shortly after the announcements were made, began a media conference saying she'd just gotten off the phone with "some Aucklanders". 

"They're in despair, in tears. They see no way out for them to get out of the prison that Auckland has become until most likely mid-December," a visibly emotional Collins said.

"What we saw today from the Prime Minister was dismaying, confusing, complicated and I think a lot of people in New Zealand will be feeling exactly the same way."

proposed plan by the National Party  would see New Zealand end Covid-19 lockdown restrictions once the country hits an 85 to 90 per cent full vaccination rate nationwide, or on December 1, whichever is first.

In contrast, the Government's plan sees the country move to a new traffic light Covid framework  once all DHBs hit a 90 per cent double-dose vaccination rate. 

Auckland will come out of Alert Level 3 when all three DHBs in the region hit the double-dose 90 per cent milestone, no matter what vaccination rates are outside of the city.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the South Island's Covid-19 restrictions may also lift before the rest of the country if all DHBs on the island hit the 90 per cent vaccination milestone. 

Collins criticised the Government for being "slow" to introduce vaccine certificates and jabs given the new traffic light system relied on it. 

"What we heard today from the Prime Minister was that we're in a sprint. Where was that sprint earlier this year when New Zealanders were wanting to get vaccinated and couldn't because we didn't have the vaccine supply," she said.

"I'm hearing from people this morning who are looking to or are closing their businesses. Everything they have saved and worked for [is] gone."

Businesses welcome additional support

Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced  further support for businesses  on Friday, including an increased resurgence support payment and mental health support for Auckland businesses. 

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said the package would help businesses until they could fully open, especially for those struggling in Auckland. 

"The business advice and mental health support for Auckland businesses through the Regional Business Partners programme will be highly-targeted support," he said. 

He said the traffic light system sent a clear message to people to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Employers & Manufacturers Association said it was welcoming the Government’s announcement. 

But chief executive Brett O’Riley is questioning how the traffic light system would actually work. 

"We are pleased to see that the specific support we’ve been asking for as part of the Auckland Business Leaders Group and our own members has come to fruition. But there will be many challenges before it can be introduced, and in its implementation," he said. 

"We understand the 90 per cent vaccination rate before the new traffic light system comes in, but this is going to take some doing.”

Green Party says plan is 'rushed and risky' 

Green Party MP Julie Ann Genter has called Labour's plan "rushed and risky". 

“The Government is unfortunately planning to move to a new Covid-19 response strategy before New Zealand is ready. The proposed vaccination targets are insufficient to protect the most vulnerable, and risk opening up before everyone is safe on an equal basis," Genter said. 

MP Elizabeth Kerekere says the lack of Māori and Pasifika vaccination rates in the Government’s plan won't guarantee everyone is protected equally. 

“We welcome the additional funding to these communities as necessary to get the work done," Kerekere said.

"However, Māori leadership is imperative to properly prepare for suppression and keep our whānau safe during this pandemic. We recognise the majority of Māori are not with Māori health providers and are instead with GP practices."

ACT Party says Government's plan 'impossibly complicated' 

ACT leader David Seymour said the Government's proposals were an "impossibly complicated version" of what his party and National had been advocating for: to end lockdowns by December 1.

“The net result is that restrictions will end near to December 1, but when exactly will be decided by laggards," he said.

"Freedom Day puts the responsibility on the person making the decision to get vaccinated. Labour’s plan means your freedom depends on the laziest person in your community."

Seymour said it was unrealistic for every DHB in the country to hit a full vaccination rate of 90 per cent.