Heather du Plessis-Allan: If Govt wants people to isolate, they need to pay them more

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 4:08PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: If Govt wants people to isolate, they need to pay them more

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 4:08PM

I think we might’ve struck on the very reason that we have this Covid outbreak in Auckland right now:  Families can’t afford to stay home and isolate for two weeks 

The government support money is too miserly. 

We’ve been told this is the very reason that families of Papatoetoe High School students didn’t isolate for the full two weeks they were supposed to: because they need money, so they have to work. 

And today, a guy called Jeff phoned Kerre’s show to say a very similar thing. He was at Kmart when the infected worker was there so he is expected to stay home for the full two weeks 

He says he can’t afford to stay home on the government and, this is what should be ringing alarm bells for health authorities, if he’d known that he would have to stay home on this money, he wouldn’t have admitted he was at Kmart. 

Which is to say, he would’ve pretended he wasn’t there and taken his chances potentially spreading Covid, because he needs to earn a crust.

And what’s worse, he won’t’ be putting his hand up again. He told Kerre: “I will be deleting my Covid scanning app and I won’t be coming forward again if I’ve been to a place of interest. It’s just not worth it.”

And judging by the texts coming in afterwards, Jeff wasn’t alone in saying he’s not playing ball anymore  

The truth is the government isn’t enough. The payment for a full time worker each week is $585.80. That might not sound that bad by itself, but annualise, and it’s $30,400. That’s not a lot - the hourly rate, is $14.6, that’s not even the minimum wage .

I wish I could tell the government was open to raising the payment but listen to Chris Hipkins yesterday.

“We are never going to be able to compensate everybody for every eventuality for every cost that they may occur as part of our Covid-19 response.”

That’s just not good enough.

Right now, we are hoping that 1525 students and teachers at Papatoetoe High School, and 1251 people at Kmart are doing the right thing and self-isolating. 

We don’t have people chasing them up. We don’t know if everyone who was at Kmart has stuck their hands up and said they were there.

This is a high trust model the government is running. We’ve seen how it can go wrong just in the last week.

So, if we want these people staying home for the full two weeks and scanning into places in the future, then this payment has got to increase to a liveable level.

Because the alternative, which is sending us all home for two weeks, is too expensive.