20 Jul 2022

National Party conference to go ahead in person despite rising Covid cases

12:16 pm on 20 July 2022

The National Party plans to hold its annual conference in person, despite the Green Party moving its online this weekend, due to a nationwide spike in Covid cases.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Yesterday 10,424 new cases were reported, and a further 21 Covid-related deaths.

There were 788 people in hospital with the virus, including 20 in ICU.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said Covid cases were increasing in all regions of the country and hospitalisation for the week to 17 July was "quite a significant" increase, at 28 percent.

National's deputy leader Nicola Willis said despite the spike in cases, she would not be avoiding large gatherings.

"I'll wear a mask indoors at crowded events, where it's practical to do so but will I wear a mask inside my office when I'm with my team who I know don't have Covid, I probably won't. If I'm in a room with people who I thought had any chance of infection, absolutely."

She told Morning Report National intended to hold its conference in person and clear mask guidelines were likely.

"I think New Zealand has had a really hard time with Covid restrictions and we're enjoying the opportunity to be physically together and I don't want to take that away from people when actually there are other steps we can take to take personal responsibility for our health."

She said she was clear with her colleagues that if they were sick they shouldn't be at work.

"I follow that rule for myself and I will be wearing masks whenever I'm in a crowded room that's got lots of people in it, absolutely, I'll be doing that."

People now needed to take personal responsibility for their own health, she said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has faced criticism after a photo posted to her social media accounts shows the prime minister and nearly 120 Youth MPs maskless on a staircase in the Beehive.

"Let's be sensible about that, I think many people have taken their mask off for a photo and that's all that happened there and I don't think that's unreasonable," Willis said.

She had seen really vigilant mask use by the Youth MPs in Parliament.

Many people had already had Covid and most people were vaccinated and wearing masks, she said.

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