7 Sep 2021

New level 2 rules a 'bitter pill to swallow' for South Island, Collins says

6:01 pm on 7 September 2021

The National Party says the Government has blindsided business with its new alert level 2 rules and the government had plenty of time to signal changes.

National leader Judith Collins during her press conference at Parliament.

National leader Judith Collins during her press conference at Parliament. Photo: NZME / Mark Mitchell / Pool

From 11.59pm tonight, everywhere except Auckland will move to level 2, albeit with new measures to adapt to the Delta variant.

Under the new rules, indoor venues such as restaurants and bars are limited to 50 people.

National leader Judith Collins said the government had failed to give clear instructions to businesses in the lead-up to the level change.

"We can't understand why the South Island didn't move down to alert level 2 sooner," Collins said.

"There have been no Covid cases there and those that have been a close contact of a case had been tested. While the move down to level 2 would have usually been welcome, businesses are finding the new level 2.5 - or Delta level 2 rules - difficult to navigate.

"Once again, the government has had time to plan for a covid Delta outbreak and what a new level 2 would look like so it could give clear instructions to businesses and, once again, it has failed to do that."

Collins said National MPs around the country had been contacted by businesses who were concerned the new rules would make it hard to stay afloat.

"Businesses have felt blindsided by the new venue rules. There has also been 20 days of press conferences from the Prime Minister but none of the new rules had been signalled.

"For those businesses in the South Island, it's a particularly bitter pill to swallow. They've been lumped in with the rest of the country despite having no covid cases for more than 300 days."

Collins also said the Auckland border requirements for essential workers to be tested weekly was a 'debacle' and would result in lost productivity.

"The government has had 18 months to prepare for this situation. It's had five months to work out a plan to deal with the changes that Delta would bring. It hasn't used that time wisely. It's become complacent and Kiwis are now paying the price for that."

She argued the rapid antigen test would be better placed to serve essential workers rather than the nasal PCR test as it delivers a result within 15 minutes.

"Otherwise they'll have to take a whole day off work to get a test and wait for the result."

Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop said trucking companies hadn't been warned of the changes and there was confusion of how and when they get tested. He said one company had contacted officials and been told that asymptomatic drivers wouldn't be tested.

"The whole point is that we want people crossing the border in and out of Auckland to be tested even if they're not symptomatic," Bishop said.

"There's really a communication breakdown going on there. It's really unclear how this is all going to work.

"It's absolutely critical for the lifeblood of the Auckland economy and the wider New Zealand economy in terms of supply chain that there is a very clear plan as to how it's going to work and, at the moment, you have to say that's not the case... it's looking like a bit of a mess frankly."

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