Make masks mandatory but free - Marama Davidson

By Peata Melbourne

“Looking after our whakapapa must remain a priority,” Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says  in response to the arrival of the new Covid BA.2.75 strain (nicknamed Centaurus) to the country from India.

“We should be worried because it will severely impact the well-being of everyone, particularly Māori, elders and young people but my greatest concern actually lies with the frontline health workers.”

The NZ Nurses Organisation and the McGuinness Institute recently highlighted in a report a significant flaw in supply and distribution of PPE supplies, as well as a disturbing disconnect between high-level rhetoric and what actually happens on the ground.

“They are working hard daily and coming face to face not only with this new strand but all strands of Covid," Davidson says. "I think that when it comes to Covid, the Greens will be proposing to make masks mandatory for everybody and free of charge.”

The government has ruled out going back to a red light setting and today saw 10,290 new community cases. The average over the past seven days has been 7591.

Davidson agrees the country can afford to wait a bit longer in the first instance to see what the impacts of the new strain are.

“For now, we must stay as safe as we can, but the Greens will continue to push for a strategy for all schools to be more responsive to the impacts of covid. We know already that in schools, for instance, wearing a mask will reduce the risk of spreading, and Covid is present at all schools. So we need to seriously consider making masks available for free.”