“It was a huge reveal in Parliament today when the Prime Minister admitted that none of the three community cases that led to the latest Auckland lockdown had been using the official NZ Covid Tracer app at all,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“It makes ACT’s call on 12 January for scanning or manually signing into any premises with an official Ministry of Health COVID-19 QR code to be made compulsory for those who hadn’t switched on the official app’s Bluetooth capability all the more salient.
“Doing that could have made this afternoon’s decision about whether the lockdown should be extended so much easier, or even unnecessary, because contact tracing could have been vastly improved.
“Then there’s the question of why we only learned of this today.
“On Sunday evening Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield suggested two of the three new community cases were using the app in some form.
“He volunteered that while they weren’t scanning QR codes, ‘they did have Bluetooth turned on for most of the time, so that will identify some people who notifications will be sent to.’
“But unlike the Northland case last month, which saw the Ministry of Health report how many people had received push notifications because they had been in close proximity to the source case, since Sunday night the Ministry has reported nothing similar on the South Auckland cases.
“Why did it take the right question in Parliament three days after Auckland was put in lockdown for the Prime Minister to admit contact tracers were flying almost blind this time because none of the cases had been using the app?
“I warned on 12 January that if we didn’t get app use up by making it a requirement of entering premises ‘the outcome will inevitably be another extremely costly lockdown.’
“I’m glad and encouraged that the Government is actively discussing acting on ACT’s common sense policy, and I don’t buy their claim that enforcement will be a big issue.
“No one wants nor can we afford more lockdowns.
“When we made masks on public transport compulsory very few people didn’t comply. Using the app or manually signing in needs to become part of everyone’s culture; tell them it’s compulsory Prime Minister and they’ll buy in, just watch them.”