The Green Response to COVID-19:
Careful and Caring
Kia poipoi, Kia haumaru
Last Updated 10/02/2022
Values underpinning our response
We take the path of caution in the face of uncertainty, and look after all members of our communities while doing so. We acknowledge the efforts of those keeping us safe, from contact tracers and border workers to researchers and vaccinators. We support a response to COVID-19 that is equitable and keeps people safe. We are guided by our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and recognise the importance of Māori-led strategies for Māori. We also recognise the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Pasifika communities, particularly in Auckland, and support a Pasifika-led response that meets the needs of these communities. We acknowledge the particular toll this pandemic has had on immunocompromised people, who deserve the best care available.
- We support layered protections as part of a mitigation strategy to protect the health and wellbeing of people within Aotearoa; which includes masks, social distancing, and ventilation and air filtration.
- We support strong health and safety standards in workplaces and protections for workers to take paid leave when needing to isolate.
- Ensure the ongoing vaccine rollout meets the needs of all, particularly Māori, Pasifika and marginalised communities, and under-12s, and those eligible for boosters.
- Support for a Māori-led health response for Māori, and a Pasifika-led health response for Pasifika, particularly in relation to increasing vaccine uptake.
- Urgently boost funding for additional intensive care (ICU) beds in hospitals nationwide, and investment in training healthcare workers.
- Ensure everyone has adequate income and community support to meet their needs during periods of isolation or lockdown.
- Ensure robust self-isolation controls and testing of incoming passengers to manage potential transmission of new variants, while enabling more New Zealanders to come home.
- Ensure the costs of recovery land with those who can afford to pay, and economic stimulus tools help those with the least, instead of creating a windfall for the wealthy.
- Build a resilient society by addressing underlying inequities that create risk factors for the spread of COVID-19 – particularly inadequate, overcrowded housing and insufficient income support.
- Support economic stimulus that contributes to a clean, green economy by reducing emissions or restoring nature.
- Provide aid for an equitable global response and support international efforts to increase vaccine supply.
Layered protection and up to date research
Elimination has protected thousands of lives in Aotearoa and has given us long stretches of freedom between lockdowns. The Green Party recognises that with the spread of Omicron in the community, elimination is no longer feasible and that layered protection as part of a mitigation approach provides the best chance at slowing the spread and reducing the harm of Covid-19 in our community.
The Green Party supports updating the settings under the Red level of restrictions as needed and based on expert epidemiological advice, to ensure these are appropriate to vulnerable people. We also support empowering and resourcing iwi to implement checkpoints between geographical areas of community spread and those without community spread, particularly while vaccination rates are lower in some rural areas.
Scientific and public health understanding of the COVID-19 virus has developed rapidly over the course of the pandemic. The Green Party acknowledges the contribution of the scientific community and supports a nimble response that can be refined based on new evidence about effective strategies. In particular, we support mandatory ventilation standards for workplaces and schools, rolling out rapid antigen testing as an additional widespread screening tool, and government procurement and distribution of high-quality masks. We also call for a systematic Māori-led review of the COVID-19 response to identify how the needs of Māori could be better recognised in future planning.
Equitable access to vaccination
The Green Party wants everyone to feel safe and supported to get vaccinated in a way that is accessible to them. We are particularly focused on ensuring the vaccine rollout is fully accessible and promoted to Māori communities, recognising current uptake is below non-Māori, despite early warnings from expert advisors at Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā. The Green Party supports the continued use of walk-in and mobile vaccination clinics in places such as marae, supermarkets, shopping centres, community facilities, and educational facilities. This includes partnering with community providers and Māori collectives to ensure vaccination is fully available through Aotearoa.
We support community providers in determining their own approach to vaccine incentives, as they are best placed to understand what incentives are appropriate for building trust and removing barriers to access in each community.
We will consider vaccine requirements on a case by case basis against the test in the Bill of Rights Act (a reasonable limit on the freedom to refuse medical treatment, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society). We agree that vaccine requirements are important for people working with vulnerable communities such as in healthcare and schools. We also support vaccine requirements for high-risk indoor locations such as hospitality venues.
A response that meets everyone’s needs
COVID-19 has shone a light on inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many of the essential workers who keep things going during periods of community spread are paid at the minimum wage, and live in overcrowded, cold, damp housing. At the same time, the Reserve Bank’s economic stimulus has seen property values skyrocket, increasing the wealth of the richest without contributing real value to our communities. We need to reset our approach and put equity at the centre, to ensure everyone is looked after during periods of community spread or economic disruption. We recognise that more income support and resourcing for community care is needed so that everyone can afford to pay the bills and put food on the table while staying home to stop the spread. We can minimise the impact of the virus if we work together, and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.
The Green Party supports fair tax, increasing revenue from high-wealth individuals to fund better social services and income support. This would include further funding for ICU beds nationwide and further investment in training healthcare workers, to address both immediate needs and the legacy of historical underinvestment in healthcare. It would also include economic stimulus initiatives to help us build back better, with a focus on reducing emissions, improving climate resilience, and restoring nature – such as through the Jobs for Nature programme.
Welcoming people home
Tight border restrictions have been a crucial part of protecting people in Aotearoa New Zealand, but as the pandemic continues, we need a fairer way to manage the risks posed by international travel. With Omicron spreading in the community, and high demand for MIQ spots, the Green Party supports a shift to self-isolation for those coming home, including enabling migrant families to reunite. However, this must be done with robust controls to limit additional community spread, including regular testing to identify potential new variants. The Government must also resource local Māori, Pasifika and community health providers and community organisations to support those in self-isolation at home, to visit and ensure their safety and well-being.
We support a future-proofed response that invests in new facilities suitable for MIQ (with other uses such as transitional housing when not required for MIQ), to provide options for controlling new variants.
Equitable global response
This is a global crisis requiring a global response. The Green Party supports ongoing international efforts to improve vaccine supply and distribution. We particularly support affordable vaccines for all through the People’s Vaccine and intellectual property waivers for COVID-19 medical treatments. We also support increasing Aotearoa New Zealand’s foreign aid to assist lower-income countries hit hard by COVID-19, particularly in the Pacific.