Kiwis appear to be backing a cautious approach with more supporting calls for holidaymakers to stay away from vulnerable low vaccinated areas than opposing them, according to a new poll.

The poll however shows a gap between Aucklanders and the rest of the country in attitudes to Covid-19 in the community, with it the only region where more people oppose than support those calls.

It comes the day after Auckland’s border dropped to the fully vaccinated and those returning negative tests, allowing residents from the Delta outbreak epicentre to travel around the country for the first time in nearly four months.

It also comes with the country today poised to crack 90 per cent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Despite this, community and iwi leaders in vulnerable areas of the country with still-low vaccination levels and poor access to healthcare, including parts of the Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti, have called for holidaymakers – even those fully vaccinated – to stay away over the summer break to avoid bringing the virus with them.

The NZ Herald Talbot Mills Research poll found 38 per cent of respondents supported those calls for holidaymakers to stay away from low vaccinated areas, while 34 per cent were opposed (the rest were in the middle or unsure).

Auckland was the only region where more people opposed those calls than supported them, at 41 per cent versus 29 per cent.

Ōpōtiki District Council (ŌDC) is backing calls from iwi leaders to try to block holidaymakers from travelling to the district.

Councillor Louis Rapihana said it was pleasing to see more people supported the measures than were opposed.

“We understand where Aucklanders are coming from, but this shows everyone is on the same waka when it comes to protecting everyone during these times.”

Rapihana, who is also a member of the iwi response unit for Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, said before opening up the district they wanted to build up their local Covid response systems.

“In the current state it is not good enough to respond to a major outbreak. We are working as fast as possible with health groups, iwi, the community to finalise a system but ultimately it will need to be signed off by central Government.”

The poll also showed 68 per cent of respondents thought the worst of the pandemic was still to come, down from 75 in November but up from a low of 37 per cent in April.

On the new variant Omicron, about a third of respondents were not sure or had no strong views, while 55 per cent were concerned and 13 per cent not at all.

On Government response, 52 per cent supported the current approach with cautious movement at the border and moving to the green light.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent said it was time to live with Covid, allowing double vaccinated travellers with negative tests into the country without MIQ and regions with no or low cases to go to green.

This continued a trend towards opening up. A slightly different question asked in September – pre the traffic light system – found just 26 per cent were in favour of opening the border once vaccination rates hit an appropriate level.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said he could understand the attitudes from Auckland given the city had done “everything asked of it”.

“You’ve had a 15-week lockdown, it was supposed to be a short, sharp lockdown. They are over 90 per cent double vaccinated, one of the most vaccinated cities on the planet.

“Sitting in Auckland 15 weeks there are some pretty sad and tragic stories.

“You can understand why people feel that they’ve done everything that’s been asked ofthem, and they should be free to travel.”

On the border, Luxon said provided people were double vaccinated and returned negative tests the risk could be managed.

“Our proposal was to identify countries that are high, medium and low risk. You can then manage that risk intelligently.”

On Omicron, Luxon said the Government needed a plan that could adapt to the inevitability of new variants.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said opening Auckland’s border to the vaccinated and those with a negative test was balanced against ensuing Aucklanders and rest of New Zealand were highly vaccinated beforehand.

All three Auckland DHBs have reached 90 per cent fully vaccinated along with the country poised to crack that milestone today.

“So we are opening with a lower level of risk of spreading Covid to other parts of New Zealand had we done so earlier,” Hipkins said.

On the border, Hipkins said there would always be different views on moving faster or slower.

“We think we’ve got the balance right, and our plan has delivered for the second year in a row the lowest number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the OECD alongside falling unemployment and strong growth.”

On Omicron, Hipkins said it was a reflection of the uncertainty around Covid-19.

“It’s a sharp reminder that cautious progress towards greater normality remains the best approach.”

The poll was taken from November 30 to December 7, with a sample of 1006 people and 95 per cent confidence level of +/- 3.1 per cent.

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