Protect vulnerable communities before rolling back COVID-19 protections

The Green Party is reiterating its call for stronger protection of vulnerable communities as the Government keeps the country in ‘red’.

“Many of our families and vulnerable communities will feel some relief by remaining at ‘red’ for now - but now is the time to act to strengthen protections, particularly around masking and ventilation. The pandemic is not over,” says Teanau Tuiono, COVID-19 response spokesperson.

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

  • Roll out a school-based vaccination programme to ensure high and equitable vaccine coverage among eligible children
  • Increase the work alongside Māori and Pasifika community 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
  • Begin work on ventilation standards for all buildings, to improve indoor air quality.

“While we are staying in ‘red’, the use of vaccine passes is being dropped from midnight tonight.

“Whatever way you look at it, it will be Māori and Pacific whānau, immunocompromised people, disabled people, our under-5s, and whānau on the lowest incomes who are the most impacted by the continuing pandemic.

“All we need to do is look overseas to know what happens when protections are lifted too soon - we should be using this knowledge to ensure our vulnerable communities are protected and safe, especially our disabled and immunocompromised whānau.

“My concern sits firmly with the parents and caregivers of disabled, immunocompromised and medically fragile children, most of whom have been isolated since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago.

“The Government must use the time it has given itself to urgently implement stronger protections in schools, begin work on ventilation standards to improve indoor air quality, boost equitable vaccination rates, and make masks free.

“These are essential for keeping our most at-risk communities safe, and are necessary to protect our already overwhelmed health system.”

ENDS

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