Distancing yes, but no need to be isolated

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Maybe it’s the familiarity, maybe it’s the southern way, maybe it’s both – it is amazing how quickly we adapt to life in lockdown to do what’s right for our communities.

After four weeks of hunkering down at home last year, resourceful New Zealanders got pretty good at both adjusting to working from home and occupying their time within the confines of their properties.

There has been a sense of familiarity for my staff and I as we seamlessly stepped back into working from our makeshift at-home offices last week.

Our phones have been redirected and our computers are logged in remotely so that we can support the electorate.

Though we are physically distanced, none of us need to be isolated, so please reach out with a call or an email if you need assistance.

New Zealanders showed incredible goodwill during last year’s lockdown and it has already been on show again this year.

I encourage you to stay connected with your friends, family and neighbours, especially those who might be in vulnerable situations.

That’s particularly important for rural communities.

For our farmers, it is business as usual, though under unusual circumstances.

The timing could not have been worse for the dairy farming industry with calving well under way.

Lambing has already started for many, while contractors and arable farmers will be gearing up for their spring planting period.

Farming is one of many sectors keeping our region going through lockdown thanks to the dedication of essential workers.

From doctors and nurses to supermarket workers and posties and everyone helping to provide essential services, thank you for your immense contribution to our community.

New Zealand’s move into Level 4 has seen our people make significant sacrifices for the good of our country.

It’s clear we needed to move into lockdown given the threat the highly contagious Delta variant is to our country.

Since New Zealanders have been playing their part, National has been asking if the Government is matching that.

Two significant factors have left our country more vulnerable than it should have been to a Delta outbreak.

The first is the Government’s haphazard management of Managed Isolation and Quarantine.

From the moment Covid-19 hit our shores there have been problems with the booking and management of MIQ rooms.

National urged the Government to address the situation and to include a move from using hotels to specialist quarantine facilities.

Now we are in a national lockdown because Delta made it through the Government’s managed isolation.

National has also pushed for a much smoother and faster rollout of Covid vaccinations.

It wasn’t long before lockdown that New Zealand was ranked last in the OECD for vaccinations per percentage of the population.

Naturally, it’s been stepped up since lockdown, but New Zealand would be much better if that step up was coming from a much more solid base.

As I mentioned, sacrifice is at the very heart of what everyone in our communities is doing to help eliminate the Delta outbreak.

For small businesses that means cutting off their income streams for the good of the nation.

For butchers and greengrocers that means watching stock going to waste while supermarket giants profit.

The Government hasn’t done enough to explain why a dairy can open while a vege store has to remain closed, especially considering many feel safer in neighbourhood shops.

given the full support of the Government to get through lockdown and the best way to do this is to put practical and safe measures in place for them.

New Zealanders look after our own – that’s what we did last year during lockdown and it’s what we are doing right now.

The question is, why can’t the Government match our efforts?

Jacqui Dean is the Member of Parliament for Waitaki