December deadline to end lockdowns - National

By Will Trafford

National says it wants to open the country’s borders and end all lockdown restrictions by December 1.

At a press conference this morning leader Judith Collins said the country should reopen when vaccination rates hit between 85-90% of those eligible.

‘We need to get on. We've got around 80, close to 85% of people who have had at least one vaccination after a big effort to get people vaccinated. There are another six weeks to go. There's no reason why everyone can't get the rest," Collins said.

Regions like Taranaki are not expected to hit 85-90% rates until the end of the year but Collins said regardless, lockdowns need to end on December 1.

‘Everyone will have to just get in there and put some huge effort in," Collins said.

Health leaders warn against setting arbitrary deadlines over vaccination targets given Māori are 50 percent more likely to die from Covid-19 than non-Māori and are trailing Pākehā in vaccination rates.

Collins dismissed those concerns speculating a timeline might accelerate Māori vaccination.

"I think the Māori population will want to get itself vaccinated, and we've already seen an uptake with some of the efforts we've seen recently."

‘Māori are also missing out on the assessments for things like cancer, heart disease, and everything else, and we do not believe that we should have Māori being targeted in terms of being blamed for the lockdown continuing," she added.

Health researcher Dr Rawiri Taonui told Te Ao Māori News this morning that, far from opening up, the government needs to consider a circuit-breaking Level 4 Lockdown to slow the outbreak which hit a record 94 cases yesterday.