Government's Covid-19 funeral rule backtrack 'incoherent, inconsistent' - Simon Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges says the Government's backtrack on funeral and tangi limits "smacks of incoherent, inconsistent policy on the hoof". 

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The National leader addressed today's developments around grieving. Source: 1 NEWS

This morning, National launched a petition against the original Level 2 rule which limited funerals and tangi to 10 people, calling the move "inhumane".

After today's announcement that funeral size limits will be increased from 10 to up to 50,  Mr Bridges fronted media in Wellington to give his response.

"I'm glad that National has pushed the issue," Mr Bridges told media this afternoon. "I'm also glad to see some progress on this.

"That said, the new rule smacks of incoherent, inconsistent policy on the hoof.

"It's incoherent because we've gone from 100, to 10, to 50.

"That, to National, indicates a real lack of a health basis, or a robust one at least for the decision making. If there had been, I would have expected the Government and Minister [David] Clark, and the Director-General [of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield] to stick to their guns.

"It's also highly inconsistent. Funeral and tangihanga can now occur with 50 people and an application, yet you can go to a movie theatre with 99 other people present, and any time you want, and there'll be no questions asked.

"Why on earth is there a difference between funeral, a tangi and a movie?"

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Currently funerals are limited to groups of no more than 10 people. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Bridges also took aim at the system of requiring Ministry of Health approval for services of up to 50 people.

"And what's more, the rules of 50, with an application while progress, is still unkind. Those with loved ones who've passed have been treated poorly by the constant chopping and changing and by paperwork.

"That is the last thing a grieving family wants.

"This is, and I'm sure is at the moment, compounding the grief of grieving family who've recently had loved one's pass."

The Opposition Leader finished by questioning the new rules seemingly overlooking religious institutions, which must still stick to gatherings of no more than 10 people at a time.

"I also want to make a comment on another issue I think that's very important, and that's places of religion.

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"They still can't meet, and this is grossly unfair treatment of people of faith in New Zealand.

"Somehow church is seen as less safe than a late-night bar or strip club, where 100 can congregate.

"The rights of Kiwis of faith have been ignored, despite I know personal representations to the Prime Minister [for] much of today by the leaders of [the] Christian community, and I believe other religious faiths as well."

Health Minister David Clark earlier spoke about the easing of restrictions, saying that: "Funerals are exceptional events and have been one of the most difficult areas of restriction that we've considered as we try to avoid the double tragedy of losing a loved one and spreading the virus.

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Previous restrictions would have limited gatherings to just 10 people. Source: 1 NEWS

"The strength of our response to this virus has been in our agility to respond and we have listened to the concerns of the 10-person limit for funerals and moved on that - while emphasising they still pose a significant risk in setting us back.

"We can all be rightly proud of the progress we've made in tackling the virus over the past seven weeks and we need to maintain this unity to keep us on track."

The new measures will come into effect from tomorrow, when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2.