“The Government’s decision not to use the red setting of the traffic light system confirms what ACT has been saying for months about the traffic light system, it is redundant and should be dumped,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The traffic light system started out as a matrix of masking, tracing, vaccination requirements and crowd size limits. Now it amounts to two restrictions, masks in orange and crowd size limits in red, there is no need for a traffic light system to reflect two conditions.

“The Government should dump the system, along with the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act that underpins the restrictions. We still face a serious problem with hospital demand, but ineffective rules do not help.

“The real Government failing is that, two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, hospital capacity is the same or lower than when we started. Labour borrowed a net $76 billion over the last two financial years, but failed to improve hospital capacity.

"Too little, too late.

“Today’s announcement takes Government policy to where ACT’s Move On paper recommended on February 24 this year. Masking and boosting makes sense, other COVID restrictions do not pass basic cost-benefit analysis.

“Today the Government has settled on that policy (plus extra availability of anti-virals and telling schools to open classroom windows in the middle of winter). The problem is that it took an absolute crisis in the country’s hospitals before they acted.

“The Government has no long-term strategy for dealing with Pandemic. They have not even clearly set out what the objectives of the COVID response is. Only when the situation gets dire do they focus on protecting hospital capacity.

“There will be more variants, there will be more COVID waves. At this point the Government is making it up as they go, announcing new approaches only when the situation reaches crisis point.

“Had the Government kept their December promise of expanding hospital capacity, including with the $100m pledged for new ICU beds at the time, and implemented ACT’s Move On policy of masking and boosting with purpose, we would be in a much better place than we are today.

“Unfortunately, New Zealanders are subject to COVID fear and COVID fatigue because the Government has lost sight of its objectives.

“Under Labour, the only illumination we get is from gaslighting. It pretends against all rational evidence that actions aren’t the reason our health system is crumbling, our businesses are closing, and our COVID cases are still rising.”