“The Government’s approach to Omicron amounts to a lockdown in all but name, New Zealanders are paying the price because the Government did not use the time it had to prepare for Omicron,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unless you’re a critical worker, you can’t risk going out, because there are no exceptions or even testing for you if you get pinged on the COVID tracer app. The Government is going to tell us which workers are critical. The truth is if your family needs a pay cheque you are critical. 

“If you are pinged your household has to isolate for weeks. People who can’t afford to isolate for weeks just won’t get tested. The virus will spread like wildfire regardless of what ‘stage’ the Government thinks we’re at.

“Despite the Government’s plan, the virus will actually spread faster in Stage 1 because people will not report their results when the consequences are higher.

“To get released you must be a critical worker and hope the Government gives you a test. Good luck getting your own test because the Government has confiscated every single one in the country.

“Despite lockdowns ending, this is a lockdown in all but name. The way people are singled out to receive exemptions and testing makes these restrictions more draconian. It was almost better when everyone had to stay home.

“Most people will stay home because they cannot afford to isolate. The effect on retail and hospitality is pronounced, with normally busy streets feeling ghostly already.

“Normally comparisons to communism are unhelpful exaggerations. In this case the Government really has made private ownership illegal and forced people to queue for supplies from the Government.

“Ashley Bloomfield’s protest that the Government has not confiscated Rapid Antigen Tests but instead ‘consolidated [them] into Government stocks,’ is runner up quote of the press conference.

“However, the grand prize goes to Ayesha Verrall for saying that the Government is ‘going hard and early with our public health response!’ If only the matter wasn’t so serious.”