A National MP has come under fire after mentioning in a Facebook Live session that the country will be moving into Covid-19 Alert Level 3 on Thursday.
The Government is due to update New Zealand on Monday as to whether we will stay or leave Alert Level 4 next week. Until then, the country remains in Level 4 lockdown.
During a live Q&A yesterday, Nelson MP Nick Smith said it was "six days to go before we start to get some degree of freedom back".
The video was aimed at informing the people of Nelson on lockdown guidelines and what life would be like for the community in Level 3.
Mr Smith also said that "with the Level 3 next Thursday hair dressers will still not be able to give us a trim", and "it's only six days to go until we step down the lockdown and get more freedoms".
A number of people expressed concern over his comments on the post. One person commented to say: "Excuse me, Nick Smith, why are you saying we will be in Level 3 next Thursday when the government has not made the decision yet? Both the PM and Grant Robertson (today) made it quite clear we may not move down a level next week."
Another person mentioned the post was "misleading".
The National Party, however, appears to be standing behind Mr Smith's statements. A spokesperson declined to comment today, saying the MP's "comments are consistent with the public's expectation".
On Facebook yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the decision will be announced on Monday but reminded Kiwis to continue staying home to save lives.
"A friendly reminder as we head into the weekend. Thanks for all you’re doing New Zealand, now let’s keep going... we’ll be announcing on Monday whether it’s safe to move to a different alert level... Till then, stay home everybody!"
Nick Smith responds:
“My choice of words last Friday was not perfect and in hindsight should have included either “likely” or “expected”. I was told that morning that Government had decided for Parliament to go back the following week, so clearly the intention is to pull back the restrictions.”
“It is hellishly difficult to stay in touch with my 65,000 Nelson constituents when everyone is housebound, but so important when so many decisions are being made affecting people’s lives. I usually do my caravan at the Nelson market every Saturday as I have for 25 years but that is clearly not possible during lockdown.”
“These live Q&A 15 minute sessions twice a week on Facebook from my lounge couch with my student son as producer, a golf club as a mic holder and no staff were never going to be perfect. I am encouraged by the hundreds of positive comments and thousands of views each time and am not too worried at the odd negative comment. If my prediction that New Zealand will go back to level 3 on Thursday proves incorrect I will ensure I correct it in my next programme. “