PM tells Christmas travellers to follow the rules

By Marena Mane

With the country now in the swing of using the traffic light system, with Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Manawatū-Wanganui in the red and the rest of the county in orange, the country will now soon prepare for all borders to open on December 15.

That's because Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised New Zealanders a Christmas holiday with whānau.

However, she does caution those travelling to follow restrictions, whether vaccinated or not.

Ardern says December 15 will allow people and holidaymakers to move through the borders, including to travel up north, and police will conduct spot checks. However, they won’t check every single person as they’ll be mindful of traffic flow and safety.

“It’s of course a requirement that if you're not vaccinated, and you're leaving, you need to be tested first," she told Te Ao Tapatahi this morning. "So all of those things combined help give extra layers of protection.”

“But everyone needs to be prepared that they could be stopped and asked to demonstrate that they've followed those requirements,” she says.

Ardern says it has always been apparent that police supervision is required at checkpoints because they are the only ones legally authorised to stop people, and they appreciate iwi support.

“They must always be supervised and ultimately run by the New Zealand police and that's the solution that we've worked through.”

More time needed

Despite the fact that Auckland has been struck the hardest by lockdowns and their DHBs have obtained 90 percent vaccination coverage, Ardern believes that more time is needed to get used to the new framework before reducing border restrictions and making the situation more manageable.

“I think people also understand that we want to make sure that we've done as much as we can to get vaccination rates up in other areas too.”

Omicron

With Omicron on its way, she says that in the event of an outbreak, lockdowns will be used for small areas with poor vaccination rates, but also it's too early to predict what impact it would have.

“It's inevitable Omicron will reach here but our hope is of course that through the quarantine system we're still running that will help us manage it.”