‘Unanswered questions’ about traffic light system – Bishop

Source: 1News

National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop says he’s concerned at the speed in which the traffic light system legislation will be passed.

"Fast law making is bad law making," he remarked on Breakfast.

"It's just inevitable Parliament will make mistakes and we're going to have to go back and fix those mistakes at some point, so it's a very sub-optimal process."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday the country would move to the traffic light system, officially called the Covid-19 Protection Framework, at 11.59pm on December 2.

The rules will be different for people who are fully vaccinated, compared to people who have not had both their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Restrictions would be placed on businesses that open to unvaccinated customers as they pose a higher risk in a Covid environment.

Regions will go into Red, Orange or Green levels, dependent on the Covid risk, the pressure placed on hospitals and the health care system and the area’s vaccination rate.

The Government will provide further details about the system this week.

The traffic light legislation will be passed in the coming days and Bishop said it usually takes four to six months for legislation to go through.

In a press release on Monday, Bishop said the Government intended to use its Parliamentary majority to "ram it through without any chance for public comment or scrutiny".

He told Breakfast his criticism of the bill is that it affects unvaccinated and vaccinated New Zealanders.

"It's going to affect every part of our day to day life and there's real complexities to it — how do vaccine passes work, how do you get them, what's the criteria, what is the exemption eligibility, how will bars make them work? There's so many different things to them and it's really important we get them right."

Bishop did not feel Auckland should be starting in the Red level, given Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield had said there had been a slow down in hospital numbers of Covid-19 cases, which were partly due to vaccinations.

Bloomfield remarked this was a "good sign".

Under Red level, there are an unsustainable number of cases and hospitals and health providers are seen as under a lot of pressure due to the virus.

"What is Wellington starting at? What does Canterbury start at? There’s no real criteria for all of the other regions," Bishop said.

"There’s no forward planning that can take place … There’s a lot of unanswered questions about how it all works that we want to get to the bottom of."

He said the traffic light system had "come together in a massive rush", pointing out the Government had announced it a month ago.

"All of this could have been avoided if the Government had got on with this earlier and sadly the last few months has been a real lesson in lack of planning."

When asked what National would do differently, Bishop went on to list the Government's failures in the current Delta outbreak.

He said the Government's "critical failure" had occurred in March/April when it did not "pivot or adjust to Delta".

"We did not develop a back up plan to cope with Delta. We assumed that elimination would work and it didn't."

Bishop described the Government as "flying blind" and "failing to plan", stating planning for the vaccine pass had only begun in July, when the EU had already launched its Covid-19 passport.

He also said new ways of testing for the virus had only been rolled out during the outbreak and described rapid antigen tests as being "basically banned" at the moment.

Reiterating comments made on Monday by National's health spokesman, Dr Shane Reti, Bishop said the Government had reduced ICU capacity during the pandemic.

"It's been a very messy last three months and essentially we have vaccinated our way through a pretty trying time."

Bishop said his focus in the coming weeks was the country's international border. He wanted to see the trans-Tasman bubble reopen before Christmas and wanted MIQ to end.