The Government is under pressure to reveal more details about how Aucklanders will be able to leave the region over the Christmas and summer period.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins this week suggested the Government was considering allocating time slots to travellers, something that deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson then called impractical.
But it wasn’t ruled out in a statement from Hipkins on Thursday, when he said the Government was “committed” to Aucklanders travelling and that decisions were yet to be made on how the border system would work. It will likely include some use of vaccine certificates and testing.
COVID-19: Government not ruling out state-allocated times to leave Auckland over summer despite backlash
The Government isn’t ruling out allocated times for Aucklanders to leave the city over the Christmas period – a controversial idea floated by COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We are committed to ensuring Aucklanders are able to leave Auckland for Christmas and the summer holidays,” Hipkins said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“At the same time, we need to do what we can for the rest of the country to try and ensure it is people, and not the virus, that moves beyond the Auckland boundary.
“No system will be perfect, and it will be challenging, but we are looking at how we can use tools like vaccine certificates and testing to achieve these goals.
“While no decisions have been made, we are talking with different sectors and groups who will be key to making a land boundary work safely and as smoothly as possible, and will keep the public up to speed with developments.”
Hipkins told RNZ’s Checkpoint on Wednesday the Government was considering giving Aucklanders an allocated time to leave the region over the summer holiday, to help reduce traffic at checkpoints, as vaccination certificates are checked.
“It might be that people get allocated a time in which they can travel,” Hipkins said. “We haven’t made that decision yet. It’s an option. We’re just working through what the practical options are to ensure that we don’t end up with people spending days sitting in their cars.”
Earlier on that day, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government was setting up a border control system that would allow vaccinated Aucklanders to leave the region for Christmas and summer.
Hipkins’ idea faced swift backlash, with some National MPs posting sarcastic scenarios of how the policy would play out, with it potentially causing huge traffic jams.
“Aucklanders queuing to show their allocated holiday leave pass, negative test and vaccine certificate,” National MP Nicola Willis captioned an image showing hoards of traffic backed up at a border crossing.
National MP Simeon Brown wrote on Twitter: “Dear Prime Minister. May I have permission to leave Auckland on Christmas Eve at 3:45pm. Returning on January 3 at 12:30pm. I hope we don’t have to enter a MIQ-style lottery to get that slot. Regards, Aucklanders.”
National leader Judith Collins urged the Government to rule out the idea.
“It seems everyone except the Government can see that this idea is unworkable and ridiculous. People in Auckland who have put up with three months of lockdown need certainty and a plan,” she said.
“What they don’t need is Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins going on the radio threatening them with another Government-run lottery to be allowed to travel over summer.
“The Government seems to be trying to make up for its negligent lack of planning over the last 18 months by publically workshopping new ideas on the fly.
“It has to stop.”
ACT leader David Seymour said the Government was “either making it up as they go or completely detached from reality” with the suggestion of Aucklanders needing to book a slot to get through checkpoints.
“The suggestion only underlines how incompatible internal borders are with life returning to normal. It completely undermines the promise of summer festivals for youth who get vaccinated,” he said.
“It undermines the promise that interregional travel will be possible once the traffic light system is in place. Worst of all is the uncertainty being created by the Government, with one random suggestion after another leading to increasing anxiety in the community.”
There were signs the idea wasn’t popular with Hipkins’ colleagues.
“I don’t think it’s particularly likely that there would be the kind of scheme where you were allocated a day,” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told First Up. “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.”
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told The AM Show the Government had not yet asked the Ministry of Health for advice on how to manage Auckland’s regional boundary over the Christmas period.
On the day Ardern announced the Government’s new COVID Protection Framework, or ‘traffic light’ system, to replace the alert levels, she assured Aucklanders they’d be able to see family and friends across New Zealand for Christmas.
The new traffic light framework comes into force once 90 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated across each District Health Board. But since Auckland has been in lockdown for months and is close to reaching the target with 82 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, it could enter the traffic light framework sooner.
Once the traffic light framework comes into force, what freedoms people have will be determined by vaccine certificates. For example, when Auckland enters the ‘red’ light, hospitality venues can open with up to 100 fully vaccinated people, but businesses that choose not to use vaccine certificates must remain contactless.
It’s unclear if regions that reach 90 percent will be held back from entering the traffic light system by other regions that haven’t reached it yet.
Cameron Slater may be a right-wing arsehole but he is also correct
On Wednesday the government told us, in a grotesque example of how power-mad they’ve become, that they were going to restrict Aucklanders from leaving town for the summer holidays, and the un-vaccinated were going to remain corralled in the Auckland Gulag.
Their suggestion that Aucklanders (except for the filthy un-vaccinated) should book a departure slot for their holidays, so checking your papers could be better managed, was met with howls of outrage.
Even the Police union described the whole idea as a debacle in the making:
The Police Association fears that managing Auckland’s regional boundary ahead of Christmas will be “a disaster” for the already over-stretched officers stationed at the checkpoints, with the Government yet to seek advice on the best way to manage the onslaught of Aucklanders desperate to escape.
That was why you saw Grant Robertson move to counteract the insane utterings of Chris Hipkins, who clearly had let the cat out of the bag far too early, and also those of the Prime Minister. They have begun to walk back the whole idea of restricting Aucklanders, such was the level of outrage they encountered.
But no matter how fast they walk back their statements, Aucklanders will always remember that they at least tried it on for size. The Police also know that there is no way they can cope with a mass exodus.
But you have to look at the underlying decision-making for even uttering such thoughts from the government. It has become abundantly clear that there is no longer any cogent decision making going on in this government. Their own pollsters have detected that voters no longer see the government as sensible, cogent or even believable. This is causing blind panic within the senior ranks of the party.
It is now obvious that the government is using fear to drive up vaccinations. In addition to the message of raw fear is also FOMO (fear of missing out), which is what they have used with Auckland and their threat of locking us all up for summer.
The underlying reason for the government, and Jacinda Ardern in particular, driving wedges in society between the unvaccinated and vaccinated is astonishingly simple and venal.
Jacinda Ardern craves attention and, like the narcissist she is, she wants to be the best or the first or the most popular at everything. She is simply trying to recover from the reputational damage of firstly having the slowest vaccine rollout in the OECD and then letting Delta escape MIQ. So she will start to change the narrative, to say that New Zealand (of course because of her decisions) had the fastest rollout with the best coverage in the shortest amount of time from when they first began. You are already seeing this messaging with her gloating that we have got more of our people vaccinated than Israel.
She wants 90% vaccinated to reclaim her world title of being the best at defeating Covid. But that is the extent of her goals. She just wants 90% plus vaccinated. She surely must know that inside six months the Delta outbreak will be out of control; there will be more vaccinated in hospital and more deaths, in stark contrast to her promises that you’d all be better off.
She is doing this because when she exits and leaves Grant Robertson holding an increasingly sick economic baby she will be able to install herself in a cushy sinecure position at the UN. She is that shallow, venal, and self-centred. This isn’t about our health; it is about control and making her look good.
This is why she is back in the bunker, shell-shocked after being confronted by the angry citizenry on what was supposed to be a royal tour and mass adulation. Her agoraphobia took hold in Whanganui and she was rushed from the clutches of the angry mob by her protection team to the Whanganui police station.
She is struggling to understand why the people are not grateful. She is genuinely perplexed about what has unfolded. All media were cancelled on Thursday and she hunkered down.
The government have shown they are incompetent, and the mask has slipped. People can now see the empress has no clothes. We are now seeing the inexorable slide to electoral oblivion. The voters of Auckland will not forget this, no matter how fast they walk it all back. The rest of New Zealand is becoming increasingly uneasy about the push to demonise and ostracise the unvaccinated and they are definitely over the drive to embed apartheid into the state mechanism.
But the heartening thing we can all enjoy is that by resolutely and steadfastly standing up to these tyrants, it is actually making them take a step backwards. More pressure will mean more steps backwards, and soon they will be routed faster than a French Army.
Also from the same cabal there is this – correct as far as it goes