Keep masks in schools to protect tamariki

The Green Party does not support the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa to ‘orange’, or the removal of mask rules for schools.

“Now is not the time to ease restrictions even further than they have been already,” says Teanau Tuiono, Green spokesperson for COVID-19 response.

“Case numbers are moving around, and people are dying every day. It’s too early to say for sure that we’re at stable levels of cases nationwide. Past the peak doesn’t mean past the risk - as many people will get sick on the way down from the peak as on the way up.

“The Government needs to keep New Zealand at ‘red’ for at least another two weeks, after which the settings can be reviewed.

“Our concern is that removing protections now will put Māori and Pacific whānau, immunocompromised people, disabled people, our under-5s, and whānau on the lowest incomes at risk.

“Not only that, but our frontline health workers will be the ones to pick up the extra workload if we move too quickly, and they are already absolutely exhausted.

“Experts have called for mask rules to remain for schools, with a significant number of children yet to be vaccinated and the winter flu season approaching. The Government should listen to these experts and keep masks in schools at ‘orange’.

“We need to do everything we can to protect these communities and our health system – not only from Omicron but any new variants.

“What the Greens want today is for the Government to announce a plan for the future, including stronger protections in schools, new ventilation standards to improve indoor air quality, a massive boost in vaccination rates to ensure equitable coverage, and free masks for everyone.”

ENDS

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