“The Aussies have shown New Zealand what needs to be done tomove on from Covid,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Australia has just dropped its mandatory isolation period fromseven to five days and ended its mask mandate.

“Now Jacinda Ardern needs to look to Australia and Singapore and move us to the Green traffic light setting.

“ACT said in our February Move On document: “Isolation periods which are too long may actually increase the spread of the disease. If people are afraid of excessive isolation periods, they are less likely to get tested and to comply with contact tracers… very few people remain infectious 10 days after their first positive test… If entire workplaces — or even a sufficiently large proportion of their workforce — are struck down by excessive isolation periods, our economy could soon grind to a halt.”

“The isolation periods are unworkable, allowing a person to take two weeks off for a household case then their own, even if they themselves are infectious for only a few days. We should take Singapore’s approach of 72 hours isolation, negative test and you’re out.

“Keeping people locked in their houses longer than is necessary imposes real costs to them and the economy, without improving our COVID-19 response. We need a COVID-19 response that considered all the costs to New Zealanders’ wellbeing as well as the benefits of fighting COVID-19 when putting controls in place.  

“Fundamentally, other countries were out of the blocks, moving on from COVID as early as possible. We are holding on to a long COVID hangover. It turns out an ‘abundance of caution’ is an abundance of cost for New Zealanders.

“More generally, the Government needs to take a leaf from ACT’s book in its approach to setting COVID priorities. Going right back to our first COVID policy Paper in August 2020, A Wellbeing Approach to COVID, we’ve said the Government needs to balance all human needs, because COVID is important but it is not our only problem.

“One of the reasons we have a cost of living crisis is broken supply chains caused by staff shortages. The Government could fix this by adopting the Singaporean policy recommended by ACT nearly six months ago. After 72 hours of isolation and a negative test, you’re free to go.

“If we don’t, much needed tourists and migrants will see Australia as the better option.”

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