Wednesday, 20 May 2020

New Zealand ready for Alert Level 1, but the Government isn't

“New Zealanders are once again ready to move down alert levels, but the Government’s slow response is holding us back,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“With only two new Covid-19 cases at Alert Level 2, New Zealand is clearly ready to move to Level 1 next week.

“Two weeks was long enough to assess our outcomes at Level 3. The Prime Minister should be able to tell us that, after two weeks at Level 2, New Zealand will be moving to Level 1 unless there is a specified uptick in new infections.

“However, speaking today, Ashley Bloomfield said: ‘there’s still a long way to go for us to get into Alert Level 1’ because ‘we’re finalising our planning around testing – surveillance and sentinel testing – in Alert Level 2, and then, potentially, how that would look under an Alert Level 1 scenario.’

“Although the case numbers indicate we are ready to move to Level 1, the Government’s testing and contact tracing capabilities are holding us back.

“Ahead of a move to Level 1, the Prime Minister must provide greater clarity on the criteria the Cabinet will use for its decision.

“We’ve heard from Ashley Bloomfield that the Ministry of Health needs evidence of no community transmission, but New Zealand has already achieved that. The Prime Minister says she wants to ‘lock in the gains’, but that doesn’t provide any clarity.

“Even more importantly, businesses must have clear rules of the game for Level 1. The rules at higher alert levels have been confusing. Businesses have been given two days’ notice for moving levels and have faced changing requirements.

“Most recently, the Government flip-flopped on the need for all businesses to maintain a register of people who enter their stores at Level 2. Some of this stems from a failure to consult with industry groups like Retail NZ.

“Getting the economy back on track will require businesses to have confidence and certainty. The most important task the Government has is to provide clear rules of the game.”