The Government’s decision to extend existing alert level restrictions across the country to at least next week is due to its “own ongoing failures”, the National Party says.
The Ministry of Health announced 33 new cases on Monday - all in Auckland - bringing the total number of cases associated with the Delta community outbreak to 955.
Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4 until at least 11.59pm on Tuesday, September 21, before being moved "in principal" to Level 3. The rest of the country will remain at Level 2 for that same period.
The alert level settings will be reviewed on Monday, September 20.
National Party leader Judith Collins said while there is “no alternative to the continuation of lockdown” due to the difficulties involved in containing the spread of Delta, “all Kiwis – Aucklanders especially – deserve a proper explanation about why they have been put in this position in the first place”.
“This lockdown will now be the longest ever since Covid hit New Zealand, making a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claims at the start that it would be ‘short and sharp’,” Collins said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Collins blamed the lockdown restrictions on the country having “one of the world’s slowest vaccine rollouts in the world”, and accused the Government of not “planning for Delta”.
She said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s continued calls for people to get vaccinated following the announcement of Cabinet’s decision “must be infuriating” for those who were keen to get the jab but were unable to do so due to the slow pace of the rollout.
“New Zealand was slow to sign contracts with vaccine suppliers, slow to approve the vaccine, and slow to order. We complacently sat on our hands while the rest of the world got on with the job of getting as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible,” she said.
“If New Zealand had a higher vaccination rate when Delta hit in August, the lockdown would be shorter and the economic and social costs would be lower.”
Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop agreed, saying the current community outbreak exposed the Government’s “ineptitude” in planning for Delta.
“The Government went into self-congratulation mode for most of this year, and didn’t make the investments needed to get ready for Delta, even while it was raging around the world,” he said.
“Saliva testing has taken a year to roll out, rapid testing is banned in New Zealand, and contact tracers have done a heroic job with limited resources. Only recently have we moved to do audits of MIQ facilities in light of the Delta variant.
“Government ineptitude around preparation for Delta and over vaccines has left New Zealand no choice but to continue the lockdown.”
Ardern pointed to New South Wales and Victoria's long lockdowns as an example of the Government's relative success against Covid-19 here.