30 Sep 2021

'We cannot continue locking New Zealand up' - Collins on National's Covid-19 strategy

8:43 am on 30 September 2021

National Party leader Judith Collins says life is full of risks and the country can't keep going into lockdown to keep Covid-19 at bay.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The National Party is calling for a 70 to 75 percent vaccination target for ending lockdowns in New Zealand.

It's among the "three pillars" of the party's new Covid-19 strategy.

The first pillar includes 10 actions for boosting New Zealand's response, the second the vaccination target for ending lockdowns and the third is an 85-90 percent target for reopening to the world.

The strategy aims for "vigorous suppression" of Covid-19, while accepting that elimination of the Delta variant and other strains like it may not be possible.

National Party leader Judith Collins told Morning Report the country can't keep going into lockdown.

She said the party's scenarios have been "checked with three experts in this area", but they don't want to be named as they work for the government or public areas.

"But what is very clear is that whatever we do, whether we get out of bed in the morning and drive in a car or we cycle to work, there is always a risk.

"We've had 17 weeks of lockdown the last 18 months, it cannot continue like this. This country needs to accept that, and the government is essentially accepting that their elimination strategy no longer works," she said.

"It's really important to understand that we cannot continue down this path of locking New Zealand up."

National haven't said they wouldn't use regional lockdowns, Collins said.

"But we've also said circumstances might change. Our aim is not to continue down this pathway of businesses failing, people's jobs being lost, people's mental health being sadly very badly effected and we have a massive debt that's being run up which means that there's not the money to pay for the hospitals, to pay the nurses, to pay for what we need."

Asked at what point deaths would start to change her thinking, Collins said: "I'm never comfortable with people dying unnecessarily, but I'm also a realist."

She said we don't stop driving cars because of deaths on the road or force people to have a flu vaccination because of flu deaths.

Collins said under her party's plan the country wouldn't need a lot of ICU beds, though it's important to still plan with them in mind.

"We're very clear that most people who get Covid-19 are not going to end up in hospital, particularly if they've been vaccinated and most people are going to be isolated in isolation centres."

She said it's important to test people before they come into the country and after they arrive.

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