New National leader Christopher Luxon says Auckland should already be in the green traffic light setting.
Speaking at Auckland bar The Fox, the new Opposition leader welcomed Auckland’s freedoms – but questioned why the city was in the red setting, as vaccination rates were so high.
“Why is Auckland in red light? That is designed for when the country has an overwhelmed healthcare system and the Prime Minister says it is fine. And we have some of the highest vaccination rates of any city on planet Earth.”
Luxon said the sector was “ready for Auckland to go straight to green”.
Luxon is doing his first “walkabout” with voters today – at Auckland’s viaduct as the city emerges from its 107-day lockdown.
Across Auckland’s three DHBs and their eligible populations, Waitematā is at 90 per cent double-vaccinated, Auckland 93 per cent and Counties Manukau 87 per cent.
Luxon said restrictions were causing “real challenges” to businesses like The Fox.
“These businesses have been doing it tough for so long, and they are still under huge restrictions posing real challenges for them.”
He suggested the Government adopt a similar scheme to New South Wales’ Dine and Discover, which provided dining vouchers as the state came out of lockdown.
It was similar to Britain’s “Eat Out to Help Out” dining subsidy.
The Government launched a voucher scheme this week but it excluded hospitality, which drew criticism from the sector.
On iwi checkpoints, Luxon said the boundary couldn’t be totally removed but he wanted there to be clarity.
Luxon was voted in by colleagues on Tuesday as the new party leader after Judith Collins was ousted last week.
On whether he asked Judith Collins to be here today, he said she was moving house but would have been here if she could have.
The fresh MP, who won the Botany seat in last year’s election, will be meeting hospitality businesses along the waterfront as the city has its first day in the new traffic light system.
It comes after the Opposition leader visited Tauranga on Thursday, where he announced Simon Bridges, who briefly challenged Luxon for the leadership, would become the party’s finance spokesman.
He was joined today by several Auckland-based MPs, including Mark Mitchell, Paul Goldsmith, Erica Stanford and Simon O’Connor.
Many eager Auckland venues are celebrating their first opening days in months, some even opening up at midnight.
Headquarters bar owner Leo Molloy told Three’s AM Show that about 50-80 people came into the bar within the first 40 minutes of opening last night.
He said things went smoothly but cited some design flaws with the scanning process, saying it could be very slow at times.
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