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Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Expresses Disappointment At COVID Framework Announcement

Press Release – Queenstown Lakes District Council

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult has welcomed Central Government’s new COVID-19 Protection Framework announced earlier today but is disappointed that this does not provide a clearer path towards opening travel within Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I think the traffic light system is excellent in that it is clearly constructed to encourage all Kiwis to get fully vaccinated which is the ultimate goal in keeping us all safe and getting back to doing the things we love. But using the milestone of all DHBs recording a 90% fully vaccinated eligible population provides no clarity or certainty over exactly when this will happen.”

“How realistic is the expectation that all DHB areas will reach 90%? I think that it’s highly unlikely so are we expected to linger in our current state for months on end? Or will there be a point of intervention such as the indicated 29 November review? The bar internationally seems to have been set at 80% and perhaps that is a more realistic target,” said Mayor Boult.

“Thinking locally, and I have to do that as Mayor of this district, domestic tourism is the only game in town for our dominant industry at the present time. Aucklanders make up 60% of our domestic visitors and a significant number of our local hospitality and visitor sector businesses are hanging on by a thread without them. They, like the Auckland folks doing it tough in lockdown for so long, need some certainty about when things might be getting better. That’s why locally our folks are turning out in significant numbers to do their bit and get fully vaccinated with nearly 95% with a first dose and 73% having had their second dose.”

“So to say that Aucklanders will be able to ‘spend Christmas with their family’ is ambiguous and leaves the country generally, but in particular areas reliant on tourism, questioning the meaning. Does this mean they will be able to spend Christmas with their families in Auckland, or elsewhere in New Zealand?”

“New Zealand Inc is suffering badly at the present time through travel restrictions, both domestically and internationally. While the COVID-19 Protection Framework and its traffic light system will aid significantly in uptake in vaccinations and longer-term recovery for some businesses, where is the certainty about opening travel generally?”

Mayor Boult added, “Central Government has done a fantastic job in keeping us one of the safest places to be during this pandemic. But it’s my belief that the country is now looking for more surety than this announcement has provided. I hope that it will be swiftly forthcoming.”

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