Defying Ardern, Deputy PM Winston Peters says 'we have been in lockdown far too long'

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand is now being "too cautious for too long" by staying at a Covid-19 Alert Level 2, and that the country should now be at Level 1.

Winston Peters Source: Getty

Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Mr Peters said that "every day, every hour, every week we delay - we put back our recovery".

"We have been in compulsory lockdown for far too long," he said.

"People know they want to be out there working.

"Everybody who has put their heart into the future, the country's future, and their family's future realise there is only one way out of this - to think smart and work harder.

"You have to look at the percentages and say are we 98, 99 per cent safe? If we are, we've got to risk it and get going.

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The Prime Minister wants to move as quickly and safely as possible to the new level. Source: 1 NEWS

"The enemy we've got now is not Covid-19, it's actually the inability to turn this economy around ... as fast as possible."

Mr Peters indicated that he had voiced his opinions on the subject at Cabinet discussions, but that his party did not hold enough influence to effectively sway the Government's thinking.

He also said that a potential trans-Tasman bubble with Australia should already be up and running.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media there were "different opinions, particularly expressed by the likes of members of NZ First around the pace of moving into Level 1".

"As there has on different occasions where there have been different opinions, consensus view is the decision I announced yesterday. I don't foresee any future challenges and I'm open to the fact we have different views around the Cabinet table."

The Government will be reviewing Alert Level 2 on June 8, and agreed that they would consider the move to Alert Level 1 no later than June 22. 

Ms Ardern has not commited to a timeline of when the trans-Tasman bubble would be created.