15 Apr 2020

National Party leader Simon Bridges calls for work to restart 'safely' after lockdown

8:39 am on 15 April 2020

New Zealand should move out of alert level 4 next week, but with a safety-first system, Simon Bridges says.

Simon Bridges in the RNZ Auckland studio for an interview on Morning Report.

Simon Bridges in RNZ studios. File image. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Bridges, the National Party leader and chair of the Epidemic Response Committee, told Morning Report: "When we think about the health effect of staying in lockdown, I'm coming to a pretty clear view ... that we should come out of lockdown next week and we should be working to safely to get businesses and workers back.

"I do want to get to (alert level) 2 ... we are trying to get that business and work back, but ... I am realistic. I am not suggesting suddenly that we are going to be at 2 overnight. I do say though that we should be agile and trying to get there."

He wanted to move away from just essential services being allowed to work, but added that he was not suggesting the country had overreacted and said he supported going into lockdown.

"I still think that was the right thing to do."

Bridges also said he took "the point that we don't want to be on this rollercoaster" where the country might move to a lower alert level and have to go back to a stricter level.

But he thought with the right measures in place in terms of quarantining, wider surveillance testing, and faster contact tracing, work would be able to restart.

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

"I'd say when the Cabinet makes the decision next week, I'd opt for coming out and safely letting more business and workers get back onto it because the consequences of not doing it are so harmful."

He agreed with the government's $3b tax break package and agreed that if we had to spend $20b to avoid unemployment over 10 percent, that's what we had to do.

"The social and health consequences of rampant unemployment are intolerable."

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