Judith Collins backs Govt's new vaccine mandates

Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ
Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ
National leader Judith Collins has further clarified her party's position on vaccine mandates, saying she backs the Government's decision to mandate that employees of certain businesses be vaccinated.

National has faced criticism for what appears to be a shifting position on vaccinations after saying that the Government's decision to give vaccinated people greater freedom's created two classes of citizen.

Collins' fears of a second class of citizenship did not square with remarks made two weeks ago by the party's Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop, who said people who were vaccinated should have greater freedoms than those who weren't.

"Other countries are granting greater freedoms to vaccinated people. It should be part of our pathway out of the current situation in Auckland, but it's impossible to grant freedoms for vaccinated people if they can't prove they're vaccinated," Bishop said.

Speaking to The New Zealand Herald on Wednesday, Collins clarified the party's position on mandates.

Collins said National was the party of "property rights", which meant businesses could decide who entered their premises, so long as they did not breach the Human Rights Act.

She said the Government needed to speed up work on vaccine certifications - something it has been slow to do.

"We're very clear that there needs to be a certification of vaccination - because if you're in a mandated industry, such as healthcare workers, teachers and others, then you need to be able to prove your vaccination.

"Secondly, we know if anyone is going to be travelling overseas then other countries are going to require proof of vaccination," Collins said.

But Collins backed the Government's most recent vaccine mandate, announced on Tuesday, which would require people working in industries where vaccine passports are required as a condition of entry to be vaccinated themselves.

It will capture people who work in hospitality, gyms, and hairdressers.

"We understand why those particular businesses [have mandates]," Collins said.

When asked whether she was okay with taking some freedoms from unvaccinated people, she said it was "obviously going to have to happen".

Collins said she wanted clarity on when the vaccine mandates will end.

"We're not against the fact there will be a temporary use of certain mandates, but it needs to also have an end point, is there a sunset clause - is there an end to this?

"Is there a time we can say we don't need to do that now," Collins said.

Collins said she thinks mandates will be less necessary once 90 percent of the eligible population had received a vaccination.

"We've also said that once you get to 90 percent vaccination around the country. Is this necessary? - is it necessary to go to mandates on everything and the answer might be "no" but it is really important in those very close contact areas like healthcare and police that we protect our staff there and the people they might be dealing with .

This is actually the point at which the Government's vaccine certification system kicks in - once New Zealand hits multiple 90 percent targets.

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