Loosening of Covid restrictions described as 'impending doom'

Source: 1News

National Hauora Coalition clinical director Dr Rawiri Jansen has described the Government's in-principle decision to loosen Covid-19 restrictions in Auckland as "impending doom".

His comments come after the Government on Monday announced Auckland and parts of Waikato at Alert Level 3 would move to step 2 in the current phased roadmap system, with Waikato moving at 11.59pm today (Tuesday) and Auckland a week later.

The decision came the same day as a record 162 new Covid-19 community cases were reported, with 143 on Sunday and 160 on Saturday. 

The move will see an easing of restrictions to allow retail to open back up with customers and staff required to be socially distanced and wear face masks.

As well, public facilities such as museums and libraries can reopen with masks and distancing required, while outdoor gathering numbers can increase from 10 to 25.  

"My sense of it is one of impending doom," Jansen told Breakfast on Tuesday.

"The Delta outbreak has been on simmer for a few weeks, the pot has come to the boil and we're gonna turn the gas up and that's really problematic.

"Opening schools and moving to alert levels with fewer restrictions is seriously going to create a big problem for us in my opinion."

Jansen said he was "really disappointed" the Government was not following the science in its decision-making.

"The Government has a couple of times now, at key moments, stepped away from following the science and that's problematic. It's very hard to step back towards the science if they've stepped away from it, and we've stepped away from it twice now," he said.

"We are just literally a few weeks away from being in a good position.

"In four weeks time we'll probably have approval for vaccinations for the five to 11-year-olds, that's a really important contribution to keeping our whole community safe; by the end of the year we will have two new medicines to treat Covid cases who are mild, moderate and severe; and in a few more weeks, three or four weeks, we will have the Māori vaccination rates up to a place where Māori communities are safe.

"So it feels like we are crossing a raging river when the correct answer is to wait until the flood has settled down and we can cross safely. I'm really disappointed."