The Green Party says the removal of pre-departure testing for arrivals into New Zealand means the Government must step up domestic measures to protect communities most at risk.
“We have been clear from the outset that the Government’s response to the pandemic must keep everybody safe on an equal basis,” says Green spokesperson for COVID-19 response Teanau Tuiono.
“The pandemic is not over. COVID is still very much in our communities, and with the removal of pre-departure tests, the Government needs to step up domestic measures to protect our vulnerable communities from long-term disease.
“Minimising harm from COVID and other illnesses set to make a comeback in our communities must start with our tamariki and their families. We call on the new COVID-19 response Minister, Ayesha Verrall, to implement a COVID Action Plan for schools.
“Schools are at breaking point with critical staffing shortages and massive student absences due to illnesses. The Government must bring back indoor masking in schools - and provide free N95 masks for both children and teachers.
“Experts and health professionals are calling for this. It’s time for an expert-led plan to support children’s access to education, and protect children, school staff, and their families from COVID-19 and other winter respiratory infections.
“A COVID Action Plan for schools needs to be part of a plan to put in place stronger baseline protections to keep those most at risk safe from Omicron, as well as additional protections for spikes in infections and any new variants, particularly as we head into winter,” says Teanau Tuiono.