Auckland mayor Phil Goff slams rash of ‘obnoxious lies’ over covid

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Auckland mayor Phil Goff ... "There are fringe groups in any society, we've just got to make sure they remain fringe groups." Image: Dom Thomas/RNZ

By RNZ News

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says people in the city are, by and large, following the rules and prosecution shouldn’t be ruled out for those who break them or spread misinformation.

The New Zealand Cabinet will meet on Monday to review covid-19 alert levels in the largest city and the rest of the country.

By then, Auckland will have operated for two weeks at level 2.5 and it will have been more than a month since restrictions were reintroduced to curtail community transmission.

The prospect of a lower level in Auckland may have been damaged by ongoing issues trying to contain the Mt Roskill sub-cluster linked to an evangelical church.

Goff said they should only move to level 2 properly if it was safe to do so. He said the move down from level 3 was more important to Auckland than the next step.

“The big change for us was getting out of level 3. It was hugely welcomed and people have responded pretty responsibly to it,” he said.

“That opened up a whole range of businesses and brought back a lot of normality.”

Impressed by Auckland mask-wearing
He said he was impressed to see Aucklanders take up mask wearing not just on public transport, but in public spaces, including supermarkets.

Goff said it was a worry that misinformation was spreading but, by and large, people are doing the right thing.

“It is really obnoxious that people can spread misinformation, inaccurate information, lies, that can damage people’s wellbeing and health through social media.

“There are fringe groups in any society, we’ve just got to make sure they remain fringe groups.”

Goff said it was disappointing that members of the Mt Roskill church were sceptical about covid-19 and had held a meeting while level 3 restrictions were in place.

“We’ve all signed up for the rules.”

He said prosecution was at the end of the line, but should not be ruled out for people who knowingly break the rules or spread misinformation.

‘Failing of intellect’
“The huge responsibility is the leader of fringe political parties going out and organising rallies and telling people there’s nothing to worry about.

“That’s what the President of the United States was saying too, so it’s not limited to a fringe group in New Zealand.”

Goff said it was not a failing of the government or health authorities to reach people who were sceptical – it was a failing of their own intellect.

“Anyone that goes out and says there’s no such thing as covid is just denying reality.”

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • All RNZ coverage of covid-19
  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.
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