“The Government shouldn’t wait for Minister Verrall’s press conference this week, they should hurry up and scrap the Traffic Light Framework when Parliament votes for its continuation this afternoon,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The announced press conference is just political theatre. If Labour want to do the right thing, they can vote to remove the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 today in Parliament.

“Her predecessor Chris Hipkins told Q+A over the weekend that he regretted not moving Auckland out of lockdown earlier. He is right to feel this way, his hesitation cost people their livelihoods and served no tangible benefit in preventing the spread of COVID with new and more infectious variants taking hold.

“The Traffic Light system is redundant. The Government has dismantled their own system to the point it has no reason to exist. It was introduced to control crowd limits, encourage vaccination and for contact tracing.

“Now it exists as a cruel reminder to Kiwis of the ongoing cost of our COVID response. Over the top isolation periods are wreaking havoc on businesses and communities, while needless government spending continues to fuel inflation and make life harder for everyone.

“Some of the immediate changes we would see if we scrap the Act today are:

  • All vaccination mandates will be gone. Thousands of healthcare workers could go back to work and help our under-pressure health system
  • The end of absurdly long isolation periods. Common sense could prevail instead, and businesses wouldn’t have to carry the can as entire working households are stuck in isolation for weeks
  • No more illogically taking a mask on and off depending on what venue you’re in. People can freely choose to wear face coverings as they say fit

“The other elements of the Act, such as pre-departure testing and managed isolation facilities, are already gone.

“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.

“Just yesterday ACT revealed that taxpayers are coughing up millions every month to advertise vaccines. Last month alone the cost was $2,765,645, this translated to 41,225 doses - $67 a dose. While last month we revealed that taxpayers are still footing the bill for pointless contact tracing to the tune of $10 million a month, despite tracing being made redundant by Omicron.

“New Zealand no longer has a coherent COVID strategy and as a result the policies are unclear and in many cases unnecessary. They exist only as a financial burden on taxpayers at a time when everyone is trying to tighten their belt. Ditching the COVID Response Act would allow us to move on with the rest of the world.”