In just over 12 hours the Government has walked back a suggestion Aucklanders could be allocated specific times to leave the region over the summer holidays.
It comes as the Government looks into travel options in the increasingly likely scenario that Auckland’s three DHBs reach the 90 per cent full vaccination target ahead of the rest of the country.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told RNZ yesterday the Government was considering the option that Aucklanders have an allocated time slot to leave the region over the holiday period.
The measure would reduce the risk of queues of traffic at the boundary checkpoints, as vaccination certificates are checked, he said.
The suggestion was slammed by Opposition MPs, with Act Party leader David Seymour calling it “completely detached from reality”.
National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop told RNZ it was “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard”.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told RNZ this morning while the Government was working through solutions for Aucklanders to travel, he did not think allocating times out of the region for those travelling by road was practical.
He said there would not be boundaries once the traffic light framework – which relies on 90 percent vaccination – was fully in place.
But if that was not in place by Christmas, the Government was looking into other options.
“I don’t think it’s particularly likely that there would be the kind of scheme where you were allocated a day,” he told RNZ.
“I can’t see that – it wouldn’t be very practical. But we do have to find a way through in the event that we still have a boundary there.”
Robertson said the main thing that would make everything easier would be for as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
“That will make travel a lot easier because there won’t be boundaries in that environment.”
National Party leader Judith Collins this morning said the Government needed to clear the air on when and how Aucklanders would be able to travel.
“Jacinda Ardern needs to rule out this ridiculous idea immediately. Then she needs to give New Zealanders a clear, unambiguous timetable for when they will be allowed to travel.”
National’s plan calls for all internal borders to be removed once the country reached 85 per cent full vaccination, or December 1, whichever came first.
The time slot idea followed comments from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday that unvaccinated Aucklanders might be unable to leave the city for Christmas if other parts of the country are yet to hit the 90 per cent vaccination target.
National leader Judith Collins subsequently called Ardern “Jacinda the Grinch”.
“The PM should be explicitly clear on whether Aucklanders will be free to travel this summer. People are planning their summers now. Families want to know if they will see each other at Christmas.
“If they don’t know what the situation at the Auckland border will be, many people simply will not plan a family Christmas or summer holiday.”
Seymour said Ardern was being “divisive and impractical”.
“The overwhelming majority support vaccination, but there’s growing discomfort about the Government setting people against each other,” he said.
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