“There is an unnerving sense of complacency about the Government’s Covid-19 response at the very time a heightened sense of vigilance and adaptability to changing circumstances is required,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“We are now dealing with highly infectious variants of the virus which are more likely to slip through the net of our border systems.
“Not responding rapidly to these changing circumstances could result in the need for another lengthy lockdown, which would set New Zealand’s recovery back by further crippling the economy.
“But the Government isn’t taking the steps necessary to minimise that costly risk.
“Instead we’re largely muddling along with the same system of managed isolation, lumping travellers from high risk countries into the same facilities as those from low risk ones.
“While pre-departure negative tests will be required for travellers to New Zealand from the United Kingdom and United States from January 29, so far there is no such requirement from other high risk countries that already have widespread infections of the new strains.
“The delay to requiring pre-departure testing alone shows how complacent the Government is being.
“Both worrying new strains are already here – the virus doesn’t respect the New Zealand summer holiday.
“Meanwhile, it feels like March 2020 all over again as other countries go hard and early with their vaccination programmes, while our Government watches on and is largely silent.
“In other countries retired doctors, dentists, pharmacists and even medical students are being geared up to get jabs in arms as quickly as humanly possible.
“Will they be used here? That’s a question many of them are asking. If the Government intends including them in the programme, when will they told?
“This Government has put a lot of public stock on making the first quarter of 2021 a major milestone in our Covid-19 recovery, but there are few signs it’s taking the task seriously.
“Once again we have an action and information vacuum.
“Thanks to this complacency we’re at risk of being plunged into another lengthy lockdown.”