“While the writing is rightly on the wall for masks and mandates today – Cabinet should also consider changing our isolation rules that are amongst the strictest in the world,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The isolation periods are unworkable, allowing a person to take two weeks off for a household case then their own, even if they themselves are infectious for only a few days.

“No other jurisdiction requires seven days mandatory isolation for cases and household contacts. Jacinda Ardern needs to look to the rest of the world and change what are currently the world’s most inflexible isolation rules.

“Two weeks ago Australia reduced its isolation period from seven to five days.

“Singapore only requires 72 hours isolation, a negative test and you’re out.

“In the U.S. the CDC recommends five days of isolation for cases and contacts, however if contacts have up to date vaccinations they are not recommended to isolate at all.

“While in the U.K. you are instructed to ‘try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days’ and if you’re a close contact ‘avoid contact with the person who has COVID-19 as much as you can,’ among other voluntary measures.

“Keeping people locked in their houses longer than is necessary imposes real costs to them and the economy, without improving our COVID-19 response. We need a COVID-19 response that considered all the costs to New Zealanders’ wellbeing as well as the benefits of fighting COVID-19 when putting controls in place.

“One of the reasons we have a cost of living crisis is broken supply chains caused by staff shortages. The Government could fix this by adopting the Singaporean policy recommended by ACT nearly six months ago. After 72 hours of isolation and a negative test, you’re free to go.

“New Zealand is holding on to a long Covid hangover. It turns out an ‘abundance of caution’ is an abundance of cost for New Zealanders.

“Today Cabinet needs to look to the rest of the world, realise we’re being left behind, and act to reduce our unworkable isolation periods.”

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David Seymour