- By Naisi Chen, Labour List MP based in Botany
Here in east Auckland, we’ve been through a lot together in the past few years. We’ve stayed home, made sacrifices and changed our everyday lives to control Covid.
While it hasn’t always been easy, we’ve pulled together – now we’re in a position to move forward with greater confidence and certainty.
As you might have already heard, we’ve now removed the Covid-19 Protection Framework, commonly known as the traffic light system. Mask wearing requirements have been removed, except in healthcare and aged care settings.
We’ve also changed the requirements around isolation, so it’s now only people who test positive who need to isolate.
This marks a significant moment in our response. For the first time since 2020, east Auckland can look forward to summer with certainty, a summer where events won’t be cancelled because of Covid and our borders are fully open.
Not only is this great news for families and friends planning holidays and special events, this certainty will also make a real difference for local businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
New Zealand’s economy is set to recover faster from the pandemic than it did from the Global Financial Crisis with near-record low unemployment, wages outstripping inflation, low debt and record exports.
However, there’s no question that it’s been a difficult few years for east Auckland. Moving on safely from the traffic light system and welcoming back the world is going to help to drive greater economic activity and allow us to build back better.
I know there may be some people in our community who feel concerned by the changes to Covid settings and I want to reassure everyone that we wouldn’t be taking this step if the country wasn’t ready.
The most recent health advice shows case numbers and hospitalisations are at their lowest since February. Our communities are well-vaccinated and we’ve just doubled the number of people who can access anti-viral medicines, with 40,000 extra courses due to arrive in the country.
We’ve also moved to ensure that people aged 65 and over, and Māori and Pacific peoples aged 50 and over, will have automatic access to Covid anti-virals if they test positive.
This is an exciting step for east Auckland and it’s taken a team effort to get to this point. So, thank you for your hard work and sacrifices over the past few years. These efforts have made a real difference.