Watch live: National's plan to get NZ back in business

National's reopening plan would see areas with 70% vaccination and no Covid-19 move to level 1, and fully vaccinated businesses returning to normal operation.

It would also bring in temporary tax cuts and industry-specific support.

Leader Judith Collins and other National MPs this morning released its Covid-19 'Back in Business' plan.

Auckland has 

Collins said the party would set a six-week deadline for ending lockdowns and believed a target of 85-90% vaccinated is 'do-able' within that time.

"We would put an end to lockdowns, reopen our economy and reconnect to the world when we hit 85-90 per cent vaccination, along with district health board and age-based milestones, or on December 1, whichever comes earlier,

"The undeniable fact is that we cannot allow things to continue as they are. Our largest city has been in lockdown for almost 10 weeks and there's still no end in sight."

Setting a firm date at which the borders would re-open was one of former National leader and Prime Minister Sir John Key's ideas for the Covid-19 response, saying it was one way to encourage people to get vaccinated rather than wait.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has resisted the idea of a date, but has promised to set a vaccinations percentage target for when a new "traffic lights" system would kick in instead of the current alert levels system.

She will set out that new system and the target on Friday, and has said it will include vaccination passes.

National's plan would:

• Allow businesses under level 2 to operate normally if all staff are fully vaccinated

• Take any area at least 70 percent fully vaccinated with no Covid in the community to alert level 1 immediately

• Allow businesses to operate under level 2 with no capacity constraints provided all customers show proof of vaccination

• Allow all fully vaccinated staff to cross regional boundaries if they have a negative test, including rapid antigen tests

• Extend the wage subsidy to cover alert level 2

• Lower wage subsidy revenue loss threshold to 30 percent, and increase payments to $800 per full time or $480 per part-time employee

• Require wage subsidy payments

• Introduce a temporary 17.5 percent tax rate for small businesses

• Ensure businesses can legally require staff to be vaccinated

• Ensure businesses can legally require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry

• Cut taxes for workers by increasing the upper threshold for paying the 10.5 percent income tax from $14,000 to $17,000 for the next two years

Judith Collins says alll DHB areas would have to reach the vaccination rates under National's plan.
Judith Collins says alll DHB areas would have to reach the vaccination rates under National's plan.

'We need to get on'

Under National's plan, the country would reopen to the world at a vaccination rate of 85-90% of the eligible population - along with district health board and age-based milestones - or on 1 December, whichever came earlier.

At present, 67% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. Collins said there was no reason why the target couldn't be reached.

"We need to get on. We've got now now around 80, close to 85, percent of people have had at least one vaccination. After a big effort to get people vaccinated. There's another six weeks to go. There's no reason why everyone can't get the rest."

All DHB areas would have to reach the vaccination rates under the plan, she said.

Regions such such as Taranaki, where it's being estimated it will take until the end of the year to reach 90 percent, would "just have to do it" by  December 1, she said.

"Everyone will have to just get in there and put some huge effort in".

Asked what would happen if the country reopened and Māori vaccination rates remained low, Collins said: "I think the Māori population will want to get itself vaccinated, and we've already seen an uptake with some of the efforts we've seen recently."

Collins said not only is business suffering, but tens of thousands of people including vulnerable communities, were missing out on other important medical treatment.

"Māori are also missing out on the assessments for things like cancer, heart disease, and everything else, and we do not believe that we should have Māori being targeted in terms of being blamed for the lockdown continuing."

Covid-19 modeller professor Michael Plank from Te Pūnaha Matatini said a fixed date for ending restrictions was not a good idea.

"I think we need to be responsive to what's happening in terms of the outbreak," he told RNZ's Morning Report programme.

"We need to be guided by the number of people that we've got vaccinated, and the epidemiology of the outbreak and the number of cases, the load on the healthcare system.

"They will change over time, so we need to be able to respond to that."

- RNZ and NZ Herald 



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