PM stands firm on Alert Level 1 move

The Prime Minister is standing firm on the wait for the move to Alert Level 1 under Covid-19, and says she hopes the country can make the shift within four weeks.

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern said the Cabinet had decided to stay at Alert Level 2 for a month, and would look at whether it was safe to move to Level 1 on June 22.

But this morning Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said level 1 should be in place right now. 

In a media briefing this afternoon, Ardern said Peters' comments were a reflection of what she had said yesterday.

"From time to time, we will agree we will share differing views in public."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says political parties sometimes take a different perspective and...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says political parties sometimes take a different perspective and there needed to be a balanced approach to avoid yo-yoing back to lockdown. Photo: Getty Images

She said parties sometimes take a different perspective and there needed to be a balanced approach to avoid yo-yoing back to lockdown.

Asked if New Zealand was ready for level 1 now, the Prime Minister said she took the advice from the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Within four weeks, she hoped to be at level 1. This would still mean hand hygiene and border restrictions, but hospitality rules would be relaxed.

A proposal to test at the border in early June was about looking at areas where there remained the greatest risk, she said.

Level 1 would also see political parties being able to campaign as they normally would, Ardern said. The general election is in September.

Ardern said she was happy to talk to the Immigration Minister about how migrant workers could more easily apply for work visas; 9000 applications have been rejected, and she said that was because the criteria were very narrow at the moment.

There are no new cases of Covid-19 for the fifth straight day.

TRANSTASMAN BUBBLE 

The Prime Minister said the transtasman safe border group will provide a blueprint in early June.

Ardern said she spoke with Auckland Airport today and every aspect was being considered, including pre-flight eligibility and safety on flights.

There was "enthusiasm" for the proposal to proceed as soon as it was safe to do so.

She said the transtasman bubble wasn't ready yet, but the border work needed to be in place when the time was right to proceed.

New Zealand and Australia were in different stages of easing restrictions, and Ardern said it would not be "too long" before the time was right.

Winston Peters says NZ First believes that the process of moving down to level 1 was taking too...
Winston Peters says NZ First believes that the process of moving down to level 1 was taking too long. Photo: Getty Images

PETERS ON MOVE TO LEVEL 1

In an interview with Newstalk ZB this morning, Winston Peters said New Zealand had been in compulsory lockdown "for far too long,"

Peters said it had been made clear at Cabinet that his party, New Zealand First, believed that the process of moving down to level 1 was taking too long.

"My party made it very clear we thought that. And the Prime Minister has actually admitted that at the Cabinet meeting - she said it. There was serious concerns from New Zealand First that this was taking too long and we should have got out of this into a better space as fast as possible."

Police Minister Stuart Nash also admitted there was disagreement in Cabinet.

"We have agreed to disagree respectfully, because the one thing we don't want to do is move backwards," he told Newstalk ZB.

Peters poured cold water on the suggestion of a new public holiday, which has been discussed by Ardern.

"A day off when we have had weeks off is not the right thing to be promoting as we speak."

Act leader David Seymour questioned whether Peters had broken the rules of the Cabinet Manual, which is a set of rules for ministers, enforced by the Prime Minister.

"Discussion at Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings is informal and confidential," the manual says.

"Ministers and officials should not … disclose or record the nature or content of the discussions or the views of individual ministers or officials expressed at the meeting itself."

Seymour said that by saying what Ardern said in Cabinet on live radio this morning, Peters was in breach of this rule.

It is up to the Prime Minister as to whether or not a minister is disciplined for breaking the Cabinet Manual rules.

Comments

The Cabinet, Manuel!

Well done. We need to do the extra mile.

A week too long is still three months less than a minute too early when it comes to reopening.

No new cases south of the Waitaki for over a month. So why are we not 'free' of all these regulations that are destroying jobs and businesses? We were told there is a 14 day danger period and a month is more than 2 such periods. Are we overly cautious? I am sure the politicians would change their tune if they were suddenly joining the WINZ queues.

Wow. The economy is burning and we are more concerned about enforcing state worship.

We have a prime minister stuck on Level Zero.

As the days go by I'm noticing more and more people are ignoring her which is to be expected given the lack of new covid-19 cases.

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