Winston Peters says latest 'lockdown' outside Auckland 'should never have happened'

Winston Peters says the latest "lockdown" outside of the Auckland region "should never have happened".

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Peters again criticised the Government’s Covid-19 response while on the campaign trail today. Source: 1 NEWS

Peters again criticised the Government’s Covid-19 response while on the campaign trail in Kaikoura today.

“The reality is the lockdown should never have happened outside of the Auckland super city region and that’s demonstrably obvious now,” he told reporters.

"Members of the Government should explain why this has happened to the South Island, West Coast and Southland when they’re flying people in from Auckland but they’re not allowing them to be in lockdown 1.”

It's been nearly a month since a new Covid-19 cluster resulted in Auckland going to Alert Level 3, which mean the closing down of schools and public events. The rest of the nation went into Alert Level 2 and has remained at that level, even as Auckland's alert level has been downgraded to what the Government calls "Level 2.5".

Peters also said today he would continue to shake hands with members of the public when his campaign moves on to the North Island.

However, he said he'd follow physical distancing protocols while in Auckland.

Peters called for the Government - which his party was in coalition with - to explain why it didn't mandate mask wearing and military at the frontline of border control "a long time ago".

He says this led to New Zealanders "having to live with a breach at our border and quarantine centres and have to go to lockdown 3 and 2.5 in Auckland as we speak".

"They need to explain that. I think New Zealand people need to know what happened here."

Peters had a heated debate with host Jack Tame on TVNZ1's Q+A on Sunday over why he has only publically raised concerns over the Covid-19 response now as the election looms.

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The NZ First leader appeared on Q+A while on the campaign trail in Christchurch. Source: Q+A

Peters said he had raised the issues earlier, in a Cabinet circumstance, "where it did matter".

"It hardly helps that far out from an election to be speaking publicly in some sort of dispute in a coalition.

"The reality was we went all the way to the 6th of August where we'd passed 190 pieces of legislation, where we'd demonstrated that we could cooperate and when the house rose we went into an election period and that's why I can speak freely now.

“I said before we went into lockdown we needed the military, and I said we needed masks, and I said we needed far greater checks as to what was going on in the quarantine areas."