Omicron has made elimination costly and futile.

It’s no longer March 2020. The pandemic has changed and we need to change with it.

Omicron will soon be here and it will spread faster than previous variants.

It will torpedo New Zealand’s costly lock ‘em out and lock ‘em down approach. We need a new plan focused on protecting the vulnerable and minimising hospitalisations and deaths instead of futile attempts at elimination.

Lockdowns didn’t eliminate Delta and won’t eliminate the more infectious Omicron. Testing and contact tracing won’t keep pace with infections. In the worst case, overrun hospitals will have to turn patients away.

Elimination is no longer possible. The goal should be to protect the vulnerable and minimise hospitalisations and deaths rather than try to stop infections by stopping life in New Zealand.

Kiwis need the clarity of a new plan.

Our plan.

1. Acknowledge that Omicron will change the script. The old elimination playbook of lock ‘em down and lock ‘em out will not survive first contact with the enemy.

2. Set clear goals of minimising hospitalisation and death from Omicron by protecting the vulnerable.

3. Undertake an all-out sprint to ensure the most vulnerable receive boosters. Don’t count how many boosters are issued, but how many of the over 65s and those with underlying conditions get boosted first, so the booster program is as effective as possible.

4. End MIQ in favour of home isolation for fully-vaccinated, negative-tested travellers so stranded Kiwis can come home.

5. Balance supply chain continuity with reducing spread through clear rules for testing and isolation so society can function.

6. Scrap nonsensical rules such as restrictions on importing rapid antigen tests. Allow any of the 67 point-of-care tests approved in Australia to be used immediately, so New Zealanders can take care of their own health.

7. Produce robust modelling of what is expected from Omicron, including up-to-date reports of true hospital capacity and how that capacity will deal with realistic Omicron scenarios.

8. The Government should be clear about whether, and in what circumstances, we would revert to lockdowns, so businesses can have clarity.

9. The Government should be clear that schools will not be closed or, if it believes they will be, explain under what circumstances, so parents can plan childcare.

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