“Labour needs to do the right thing and announce the end of the Traffic Light Framework today,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Traffic Light system is redundant. The Government has dismantled its own system to the point it has no reason to exist. It was introduced to control crowd limits, encourage vaccination and for contact tracing. None of that is happening anymore.

“Now it exists as a cruel reminder to Kiwis of the ongoing cost of our COVID response. Over the top isolation periods are wreaking havoc on businesses and communities, while excessive government spending on things like contact tracing centres and vaccine advertising continues to fuel inflation and make life harder for everyone.

“Chris Hipkins has owned up to his regret for not moving Auckland out of lockdown earlier. His hesitation cost people their livelihoods and served no tangible benefit in preventing the spread of COVID with new and more infectious variants taking hold. Minister Verrall can’t make the same mistake of hanging on to unnecessary restrictions for too long at the expense of everyday Kiwis.

“There may be rising case numbers but that doesn’t justify rules that aren’t working. ACT says the benefits of policies must outweigh their costs. For example, if masks aren’t justified in nightclubs, they certainly aren’t justified in retail, and neither is the abuse retail staff get as de facto police of the mask rules.

“New Zealand no longer has a coherent COVID strategy and the Minister has no rationale for explaining the continuation of these restrictions. They claim they exist due to an ‘abundance of caution’, but it equates to an abundance of cost for New Zealanders.

“Fundamentally, other countries were out of the blocks, moving on from COVID as early as possible. We are holding on to a long COVID hangover that is suffocating businesses.

“New Zealanders are fed up. It’s time to move on. No more arbitrary traffic light and alert level systems, no more fear about what restrictions could be inflicted on us. It’s time to catch up to the rest of the world and move on.”

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