'Two-tier society'? Opposition on 'short term' use of proof of vaccinations

The National Party supports certificates of inoculation - but there's a catch

'Two-tier society'? Opposition on 'short term' use of proof of vaccinations

Opposition National Party has said it supports the ruling administration's policy on proof of vaccinations but said it should only be for short-term use. National leader Judith Collins said in a statement that the government should be relaxing restrictions as more people get vaccinated.

"We support short term widespread use of proof of vaccination as we continue our vaccination drive. As Kiwis get vaccinated, the Government should be relaxing restrictions on them," said Collins.

"The National Party doesn't agree with the Government in their plan to impose restrictions with the mandatory use of vaccine certificates after we have hit their vaccine target of 90% across all DHBs (district health boards)."

According to Collins, once the 90% vaccination target is achieved, private businesses should be given the liberty whether to impose the mandates.

"Some businesses will choose to require proof of vaccination. Others will not," Collins said.

The National leader also took a swipe at the time the government considered proof of vaccinations. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins previously announced that they considered it in July, but Collins said they were already inquired about it as early as February.

"The Government should have begun work on providing proof of vaccination long ago – perhaps when I first enquired about it in the House in February," Collins said.

The statement comes as the New Zealand government on Tuesday announced a sweeping vaccine mandate, requiring around 40% of the workforce to get the jabs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that workers employed at businesses requiring vaccine certificates must be fully immunised. This includes hospitality venues, hairdressers, and gyms.

Read more: Employers criticise government's COVID-19 approach: survey

Divisive, counterproductive

Collins also called out the government's attempt to encourage people to get vaccinated - particularly Ardern's comments on how COVID-19 policies will create a "two-tier" society where unvaccinated people enjoy less rights than fully immunised ones.

"The Prime Minister’s casual commentary on New Zealand being a two-tiered country was divisive and counterproductive," said Collins. According to the opposition leader, proof of vaccinations should not be a "long-term tool" for the government to separate its citizens, adding that supportive discussions and openness are "more productive means" of encouraging those hesitant to get the jabs.

"Alienating, bullying, and vilifying are simply a sure way to divide our country and push people away," Collins said.

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