Auckland's borders going sooner than advice said - Hipkins

Source: 1News

The Government is standing by its decision to keep Auckland's borders in place until December 15.

It comes after an affidavit from Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield to the Waitangi Tribunal revealed the Ministry of Health recommended the region's borders should have been removed when the traffic light system came into effect.

"This is because there will be no public health justification to maintain a boundary around Auckland under the CPF (Covid Protection Framework). Put another way, the boundary around Auckland has served its purpose. It has been effective, alongside other public health measures, in greatly reducing the risk of the virus 'escaping' Auckland," Bloomfield said.

The news prompted National leader Christopher Luxon on Wednesday to call for Auckland to be in Orange and for its borders to go.

READ MORE: Luxon calls for Auckland's borders to go now

Defending the Government's decision to keep the border in place until December 15, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Breakfast if it had followed "advice to the letter", Aucklanders would have gotten their freedom a little later.

"Well look to be clear the advice we received was that we should move to the traffic light framework once 90 per cent of all Auckland DHBs had reached that 90 per cent fully vaccinated target. Now Counties Manukau still haven’t quite hit that. They’ll hit that at some point in the next day or two. Auckland would still be waiting to move to the traffic light framework," he said.

"The advice was then that when you move to the traffic light framework it should be two weeks after that fully vaccinated target was hit, meaning it would still be a couple of weeks away, then you remove the boundary around Auckland at the same time," Hipkins explained.

Police officer at Te Hana border checkpoint north of Auckland.

"We made the decision to bring forward moving to the traffic light framework, whilst leaving that boundary in place. So decoupling those two decisions and the result is Auckland is experiencing much greater freedom over the last week than they would have if they were still waiting."

READ MORE: No health justification to Auckland boundary delay - Bloomfield

Breakfast presenter Scotty Stevenson then queried: "So what you're saying is you've moved faster than official advice on the one hand and slower on the other — a mix of the two?"

Hipkins replied: "Well no, it's around about the same time on the boundary. So if we had waited for that two weeks after the 90 per cent target was reached we'd be removing the boundary potentially in a couple of weeks.

"We're actually removing the boundary in a week, so it's probably slightly ahead of where we'd got to if we followed the advice to the letter."

Between December 15 and January 17, Aucklanders can leave the region if they are fully vaccinated or if they provide a negative Covid test taken 72 hours prior to departure.

There will be two checkpoints south of Whangārei manned by police and iwi during this time.