“As the reality of teachers and nurses walking away from their jobs sets in today, ACT is again calling for the mandate to allow regular testing as an alternative to vaccination,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“ACT is pro-vaccination; we are frustrated by those who are refusing the vaccine. But the issue has now become divisive and mean spirited. It’s time for the Government to apply the approach of the Danish Government, Air New Zealand, and its own requirement for teachers to all mandates, testing every 72-hours for the unvaccinated. 

“Nearly every sector is experiencing great difficulty with vaccination mandates. Teachers have testing as an alternative to vaccination, at least in the interim. Firefighters have just been given a two-week extension. The Government is suspiciously silent on a mandate for the police force. 

“As a rule of thumb, it appears some sectors will lose five per cent of their workforce to mandates. None of them can afford that as they are all stretched already.
“Good policy gets to the heart of the problem it’s trying to solve, then asks what the best way to solve the problem is. The point of vaccine mandates is to save hospital capacity by lifting vaccination rates generally and prevent unvaccinated people from passing COVID on to others. 
“Mandates in specific sectors are a blunt way to lift overall rates, that should be done by an efficient roll out boosting availability, and incentives. Regular testing can provide as much if not more reassurance to people encountering essential workers that they are safe.
“The idea of a vaxx/test mandate is not new. It is the official policy of Denmark, where a phone app pass shows that a person is either vaccinated, recently tested, or has recently recovered from COVID. In the United States, Joe Biden’s policy requires firms with over 100 employees to be either vaccinated or tested.
“From mid-December, Air New Zealand’s official policy for domestic travel will be to require either vaccination or a negative test within 72-hours to fly. If it is good enough for Air New Zealand passengers flying around the country, is it not good enough for your midwife?
“ACT’s preferred policy is to allow businesses to decide their own policy for vaccination, the option of regular testing as a substitute can be built into that. However, if the Government is going to press on with sector-wide mandates, then it should allow the choice of testing.
“Regular saliva testing is already available for border workers, essential workers crossing borders, and teachers. Asia Pacific Health Group, who have the Government contract to provide saliva testing, have got 88 pickup and drop off sites for samples already. It appears they are operating below capacity and could test a lot more people if needed.
“The Government should build a test validation function into its vaccine passport app. Better still, Jacinda should use her relationship with Mette Fredericksen, get on the phone, and ask to borrow the Danish model for New Zealand. 
“A vaxx/test mandate is not giving up on vaccination. I suspect many people, after a few weeks of testing twice a week, will opt to get vaccinated after all. However, at this point we need continuity and unity over chaos and division.”