“Newshub Nation this morning reported that vaccine passes will be gone by April 13th, why not just do it now?” Asks ACT Leader David Seymour.

“ACT was the first party to say it’s time to move on. Last month we released a cost benefit analysis on all of the Government’s COVID policies.

“Fatigue is setting in after nearly two years of restrictions. There’s a growing appetite for an end to government controls in favour of freedom – for people to take back control of their own lives.

“Omicron is a ‘whole new virus’ and as such requires different policy responses from previous variants. Its higher infectiousness means preventing spread is more costly and its lower virulence means that the benefits of preventing cases are smaller than with Delta and other variants.

“Businesses are being crippled and a small percentage of the population is being marginalised and segregated. 

“Our rules for vaccine passes, isolation, importing Rapid Antigen Tests, and QR codes will look quaint to people from countries that have already moved on, and trying to enforce them will only show how nonsensical our own rules are. If we can get rid of them in time for tourists - then we should just do it now.

ACT’s Move On plan proposes:

• Scanning and contact tracing: Contact tracing creates relatively minor costs, but also delivers negligible benefits because it does not reach enough potential contacts or reach them fast enough in light of Omicron’s higher transmissibility. It results in some people isolating because they are “pinged” but often not in time to prevent them from transmitting the virus. The resulting isolation that comes from being pinged is a growing disaster for business and supply chains. The requirement for businesses to display codes and have people scan in should be dropped, along with the requirement to contact trace cases, because it’s just not working. Dropping these requirements would be an important symbol that we are moving on and getting our way of life back. It should be done immediately.
• Mask requirements: Well-worn and high-quality masks can help prevent spread. Mask wearing likely has significant benefits for reducing the spread of Omicron, although this is sensitive to mask quality. While extremely irritating, it is one of the few current policies where it is reasonable to believe that the benefits outweigh the costs.
• Boosters: Relative to a two-shot regimen, booster shots significantly reduce the likelihood of death and serious illness due to COVID-19. There is a limited cost. Boosters are an important way to reduce the costs of the inevitable spread of Omicron through the community. Nonetheless, given most of the benefits of booster doses go to those who get boosted, there is little case for mandating them.
• Vaccine requirements: It is difficult to justify a vaccination mandate purely on the grounds that it reduces hospitalisation risk for unvaccinated people themselves and thus pressure on the health system. This effect has already reached saturation. Unless a new requirement for boosters is introduced, mandating is having negligible effect on vaccine uptake and should be dropped immediately.
• Traffic Light Framework: The Government has dashed large events and hospitality businesses at enormous cost with little consideration for what the benefits might be. If they have cost-benefit analysis for Omicron, they have not presented it. We have been asked to accept these restrictions with no idea whether they will leave us better off or by how much. Unless the Government can show the benefits of restricting large events in an Omicron environment, in terms of reducing the peak demand on hospital capacity, the Traffic Light System should be dumped immediately so we can all move on.

“It’s time to move on from fear and control. It’s time to get our lives back.”