Auckland’s move to the Covid-19 traffic light system and the day its borders lift won’t happen at the same time, the Prime Minister confirmed on Tuesday.
“As you’ve heard us say, we have every expectation that at the Cabinet meeting on November 29, we’ll be looking to confirm decisions about Auckland’s movement at that point,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“So, I anticipate they’ll likely be separate dates.”
On Monday, Ardern said Aucklanders will be given more detail on Wednesday over how the border will be managed over the summer.
As for the move to the traffic light system, Ardern signalled that Cabinet would be making a decision on November 29 about whether Auckland would move to it.
She also said Cabinet would be “pragmatic” about deciding whether more parts of the country could also move to that new framework on that date, regardless of whether all DHBs are at the 90 per cent fully vaccinated mark.
During Question Time on Tuesday, National leader Judith Collins asked why the Government was delaying its announcement about how Aucklanders can travel when they had already endured more than 90 days in lockdown.
Ardern said Wednesday’s announcement would have “operational impacts”, meaning agencies needed to be told beforehand about the changes.
ACT leader David Seymour then pointed to Ardern’s statement on Monday where she said the Ministry of Health was telling Cabinet to consider moving to the traffic light system earlier because it provided greater protection than Alert Level 2.
Seymour suggested that “vaccination rates are not the problem” in deciding that move, and that Ardern was “just buying time for the software development” for vaccine passes.
Ardern rejected Seymour’s suggestions.
“Until you have high vaccination rates, if you choose to use no longer use some of the blanket restrictions we’ve had available to us, there is a concern of course that outbreaks, both because you don’t have high enough vaccination rates and because you aren’t using widespread restrictions, outbreaks get out of control,” she said.
She said the move to the new system was only possible at higher vaccination rates because of the widespread use of vaccine passes, which could stop unvaccinated people from going to certain, non-essential places.
However, Ardern couldn’t give Seymour an answer about the level of vaccine coverage that would mean the traffic light system would be safer than the alert level system.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said during Question Time that the Government signed a contract with tech company MATTR to create domestic vaccine passes on October 13.