Govt spends $150m on PPE; PM says travel bubble still an option

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 4:04PM

Govt spends $150m on PPE; PM says travel bubble still an option

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 4:04PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed at today's post-Cabinet press conference that the Government would spend another $150 million on personal protective equipment for workers in border facilities and in health care.

Ardern also announced that the Government was looking into confining new arrivals in New Zealand to their rooms for the first three days of their stay

The spend is on top of the $200 million announced in April.

Ardern said the Defence Force audit of border facilities identified issues with PPE so the Government was allocating another $150 million for supplies.

DHBs would be training staff at the facilities about how to use PPE.

The $150 million was for all different forms of PPE and New Zealand was able to supply some of the demand domestically, she said.

Ardern said there was no playbook to pre-empt the "twists and turns" of Covid-19 so the Government was learning as it went.

She said people would struggle to fund a harsher critic than her.

Twenty-one per cent of all the testing had happened in the past two weeks and there was still no evidence of cases outside of border facilities, she said.

Every active case - all 22 of them - are in a facility of some kind and Ardern compared that to the situation in Australia.

The Government was looking into the legalities to require new arrivals to stay in their rooms for the first three days of their stay in their facilities, Ardern said.

Minister in charge of the facilities Megan Woods said the day three test still might not pick up someone incubating the virus, but director general of health Ashley Bloomfield and Air Commodore Darryn Webb were looking into what options were available.

Ardern said requiring people to stay in their rooms would be "another layer of protection".

Ardern also said she would like to see people charged in the near future if they chose to leave New Zealand and then get free isolation upon their return.

Ardern said for anyone looking to go overseas, especially ahead of the school holidays, it wasn't fair for taxpayers to pick up the tab for their return so the Government was looking into its options as to how to charge them for border facilities.

Towns and regions will be engaged if new isolation facilities needed to be stood up, Woods said.

Ardern said it was not surprising more Kiwis were wanting to come home as the pandemic raged overseas.

We have freedoms many others around the world don't have, like playing sport and travelling where we liked, she said.

Ardern said "we do not want to leave anything to chance" in relation to the border.

On the issues of supplying masks to Air New Zealand, Ardern said because the Government was a major shareholder in the company it wanted to give certainty the extra layer of security would occur.

She said the Governement knew airlines were struggling and wanted to ensure there was no barrier to the PPE policy being implemented.

On the issue of the transtasman bubble, Ardern said flights would need to change as they were often used for transit flights which posed a risk.

Airport operations would also need to be reviewed, Ardern said.

In response to National leader Todd Muller saying the borders should be opened, Ardern said it was "dangerous" for New Zealand to open its borders.

Ardern said she wouldn't say it was "unrealistic" for the transtasman bubble to happen this year.

In the wake of Paula Bennett announcing her retirement, Ardern said the former Nationa deputy leader always had an ability to keep her sense of humour, even in tough circumstances. She said her departure will be seen as a loss for the National Party.