15 May 2020

Covid-19: Simon Bridges calls for increased limit on tangi, funerals and faith services

12:07 pm on 15 May 2020

The leader of the National Party is calling for a increased limit of 100 people for funerals, tangi and faith services under alert level 2.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Today, MPs will continue debating critical legislation which will grant extraordinary powers to both the government and police to combat Covid-19.

The Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill grants extraordinary powers to both the government and police to combat Covid-19 and is been debated under urgency.

The legislation passed its first two readings last night, without support from the National Party.

National Party leader Simon Bridges told Morning Report that's because his party disagrees with the rule under alert level 2 which limits attendance at funerals, tangi and faith services to 10 people.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she, like other world leaders, struggled with the decision, but had to play it safe.

However under the rules up to 100 people are allowed at public venues like restaurants and cinemas, in separate groups of no more than 10.

Bridges said he wants people to enjoy a level of societal freedom but limiting funerals, tangi and church services is "cruel and inhumane".

"I think if that is good in these other situations, it's inexplicable really to say that it's not OK for funerals when I've talked to the likes of the funeral directors association and it's quite clear from them they have thought deeply about how to do this safely."

Francis Tipene, the director of Tipene Funerals in Auckland, told Morning Report yesterday the news was "a cruel and heartless blow" to the families of people who have died during the course of the lockdown.

The other fundamental issue with the bill, Bridges said, is giving the health minister and police more powers than they've ever seen in a non-warlike situation.

"What is wrong and insufficient under level 2 with the powers police have under the various laws they have in place now which means that on good cause, they can do the various things that you'd think they would need to do at level 2?"

He said police do not need to have powers to enter property without a warrant.

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