Urgent action needed to protect communities

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party does not support changes to COVID protection measures and calls on the Government to act urgently to keep our most at-risk communities safe.

“The Green Party is calling for much stronger baseline protections to keep people safe from Omicron, as well as additional protections for spikes in infections and any new variants,” says Teanau Tuiono, spokesperson for the COVID-19 response.

The Green Party calls on the Government to act right now to:

  • Rollout a school-based vaccination programme to ensure high and equitable vaccine coverage among eligible children
  • Work alongside Māori and Pasifika leadership to achieve high equity in vaccine coverage
  • Provide free N95 masks or equivalent for everyone, starting in schools for both children and teachers, as children will be at greater risk from the removal of vaccine mandates

“Stronger protections in schools, equitable vaccination rates, and free masks are essential for keeping our most at-risk communities safe. They are also necessary to protect our overwhelmed health system.

“This pandemic is not over. We have seen overseas what happens if protections are removed too soon. It is also far too premature to drop vaccine mandates for education, especially in early childhood education where under-5s cannot be vaccinated.

“The Government should be trying to stay ahead of the virus and doing everything we can to avoid a second peak. If we don’t, it will be Māori and Pasifika whānau, immunocompromised people, disabled people, our under-5s, and whānau on the lowest incomes who will be most affected.

“Now the Government has changed protection measures, it needs to act urgently to make sure there are much stronger baseline protections in our communities. This is especially important for the under-5s who cannot be vaccinated, and for immunocompromised people and those with underlying health conditions.

“Longer-term, the Government needs to commit to improving indoor air quality so we can move out of the emergency response phase safely.

“The Green Party also wants to see a clear plan to improve the long-term wellbeing of our communities. Many thousands of people will continue to experience disruption from COVID and urgent steps need to be taken to make sure that whatever the pandemic brings, no one has to go through it while still trapped in poverty,” Teanau Tuiono says.

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