NZ covid: Not following rules ‘puts all of us at risk’, says Auckland mayor

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Auckland mayor Phil Goff
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at the production line team at Spark Arena during New Zealand's level 4 lockdown last year. Image: Bryan Lowe/RNZ

By RNZ News

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff wants tougher measures against people ignoring New Zealand’s covid-19 health guidance.

He said it was frustrating to learn one of the two community cases confirmed yesterday was not isolating while symptomatic.

Goff said if New Zealanders followed the rules, as most people had done in the past, then the country would get through the crisis.

“But what’s hugely disappointing to me … is that there are some people maybe through ignorance, maybe through irresponsibility, that haven’t followed the rules and that puts all of us at risk,” he said.

Goff said he understood that taking a highly punitive approach to those who break the rules may well be counterproductive by discouraging them from getting a test if they did have symptoms.

But he said, for example, that he would like police to sanction people for not wearing masks on public transport.

“If we think that somehow we’re immune or not covered by the rules and we go out and we flout them, that’s when we get the spread and you know we’ve all got the example of Melbourne, just across the ditch from us and the huge impact and deaths and in economic and in personal disruption that caused,” he said.

Government moved decisively
Goff said the government had moved decisively to stop any super spreading events in Auckland.

He said the authorities may also want to consider making it mandatory to wear masks inside in a public place such as a supermarket at alert level 3, not just on public transport as is currently the case.

Goff acknowledged moving to alert level 3 was hugely disruptive and effected major family events such as weddings, as well as restricting funerals to only 10 people.

“It’s something you really don’t want to do but the alternative option of not doing that, we’ve seen that big gatherings like weddings have lead to the super spreading of covid-19.”

He said a quick and efficient roll-out of the vaccine would help Auckland to get out of the situation of repeatedly going into level 3 restrictions.

He said there had to be some priority in vaccination after the health workers and the frontline border staff.

Some priority needed
“There has to be some priority to the region that is just getting hammered time and again because we are the gateway city, but we can’t avoid that that’s where the international airport is for the country but because we also have more than a proportionate share of those quarantine facilities.”

Goff said he wanted to thank the overwhelming number of staff and students at Papatoetoe High School who had done the right thing.

He said they had all been tested twice for covid-19.

“The fact that one of the dozen that weren’t tested was one of the ones that showed up with symptoms, I mean that just shows you overwhelmingly people can do the right thing, but it only takes one or two people to let the side down for that to undermine our overall efforts.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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