Govt must clear up Covid-19 uncertainties

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If you are confused or uncertain about what our region’s immediate future looks like, you are not alone.

This week, in its series of unclear and uncertain announcements, the Government confirmed the date of its move to a Traffic Light System — December 3.

In doing so, its commitment to a 90% vaccination rate before any change in protocols could be made slipped quietly into the background.

In what has become a long line of announcements about upcoming announcements, which would be more fitting for a soap-opera cliff-hanger than a prime ministerial address, our region has again been left wondering what its summer will look like.

Feedback through my offices has been clear. The North Otago region wants clarity and certainty from the Government on what the Traffic Light System will mean for us and that is exactly what I have been urging the Government to deliver.

The drip-feeding of announcements, which the Government appears to be making up on the run, is made more frustrating by the strong efforts the North Otago community has made to safeguard itself and our country.

The sacrifices of our business shutdowns and stays-at-home have kept North Otago Covid-free for many months.

Our strong vaccination rates reflect how determined we are to keep this region safe and protected.

In return, it isn’t too much to ask for the Government to deliver some clarity and certainty, which can go a long way in uncertain times.

That’s why my colleagues and I will continue to call on the Labour ministers to abandon their reactionary, make-it-up-as-we-go approach and to start delivering New Zealanders firm decisions so they can plan for their futures.

This theme of announcements about announcements and its continual shifting of its own Covid goalposts is a clear indication that the Labour-led Government hasn’t got a strong grasp on the Covid response. Delta didn’t arrive in New Zealand overnight, the Government has had the best part of two years to prepare for the potential of community outbreaks.

Though it clearly hasn’t used that time well, evident in the slowing down of the vaccine rollout to a snail’s pace in the middle of this year, it cannot continue.

A clear, concise and transparent approach is needed and it applies to all areas of Government.

That means fronting up and answering questions like why hasn’t the Government addressed the concerns of the overwhelming majority of councils opposed to the Three Waters reforms instead of steamrolling ahead with this massively costly and unnecessary project?

Why has the Minister of Health Andrew Little just this week been exposed by my colleague Dr Shane Reti for overstating New Zealand’s ICU capacity numbers?

Why is it still unclear why a double-vaccinated traveller with a negative test must go through MIQ while positive cases within New Zealand can stay at home?

Instead of constantly muddying the waters, it is time this Government delivered clarity.

After nearly two years of extraordinary sacrifice, regions like ours deserve it.

– Jacqui Dean is the Member of Parliament for Waitaki