'Caution paid off' - PM's reassurance of a summer without lockdowns

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 1:38PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Caution paid off' - PM's reassurance of a summer without lockdowns

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Dec 2021, 1:38PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not planning on lock downs over summer, with some parts of the country only just starting to get freedoms back.

Ardern's reassuring comments come as a leading epidemiologist warns Auckland will "probably" see more transmission around the city despite its high vaccination rates.

But while Aucklanders are getting ready to leave the city from next Wednesday, Professor Michael Baker told Breakfast Aucklanders shouldn't go and stay with anyone who is unvaccinated as it could be a "real disaster".

However, Ardern is confident the new traffic light system rolled out last Friday will give the country enough protections.

She told Breakfast she was feeling "really positive" after the country's first weekend in the new traffic light system.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has no plans to put the country into lockdown over summer. Photo / File

A large number of New Zealanders are now vaccinated and as a result, the number of cases are starting to come down - particularly in Auckland.

Yesterday there were 106 new cases including 93 in Auckland, eight in Waikato, three in Northland, as well as one case each in Whanganui and Canterbury that were first reported on Saturday. There were 77 people in hospital with Covid.

"I think we can feel confident moving forward into the new framework and into our new way of doing things," Ardern said.

She then told The AM Show there was nothing to suggest another lockdown would occur over summer.

Any lockdowns would be different to before and there would be a lot more warning before a lockdown occurred.

They would also be very localised and only triggered in areas if it was a community with low vaccination rates, a significant number of cases and pressure on the hospital system, she said.

By localised, she said it would be like in the last outbreak when just a small area in Hauraki - Kaiaua - was put into lockdown.

Ardern also asked for patience under the new system and pointed to spikes in case numbers other countries have faced after hastily removing public health measures.

"We've seen enough from overseas that if you just pull the brakes off too quickly it can end in disaster and a quick flip back into restrictions - we don't want that we've always done things our way and caution has paid off," she told RNZ.

Baker said they needed summer to be as safe as possible, particularly as Aucklanders got ready to leave the city that is still dealing with Covid-19 in the community.

Despite vaccination rates now very high in the Auckland region, the city would "probably" see more transmission of the virus in the city.

"This is uncharted territory at the moment. We've had 18 months with the very effective alert level system...and this is a whole new world."

A lot more responsibility now lay on the individual and Baker encouraged people to get tested beforehand - even children.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker is warning Aucklanders not to stay with unvaccinated people. Photo / Supplied

Baker said "make alternative plans" if family members remained unvaccinated.

He acknowledged that these are extraordinary times and those precautions should still be made to protect older members in the family, or family and friends who have other health conditions or are immunocompromised.

"They are very vulnerable to get this infection. It won't happen every time, but it will happen often enough that we could see some real tragedies around the country."

Retirement Village Residents' Association president Peter Carr said there was a lot of uncertainty around visitors and vaccines in retirement villages. He called on the Government to release a public health order to give more guidance to operators.

It comes as family members fear they may not be allowed to visit their parent or grandparent at Christmas due to some of the retirement villages' current rules.

While it was up to each facility to decide what they did, Arden said the guidelines did allow for measures such as masks, vaccine passes and negative tests to allow for visits to happen safely.

No elderly person should be on their own at Christmas, she said.