Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Grant Robertson hits back at ScoMo Covid criticism

* Covid-infected wait 24 hours to enter Auckland’s Jet Park as case numbers grow
* Locations of interest: More supermarkets, two Farmers stores, another uni campus
* Isolating families struggle to access food
* Vaccine mistake: Five people may have been given saline instead, investigation under way

There are now 470 locations of interest, with new additions including a shopping mall, a cinema complex and several bus stops today.

The new sites include the NZ School of tourism, St Heliers Mall, Event Cinema Arcadia Games in St Lukes and six trips on the Bus 007 between Green Bay and Glen Eden.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson dismissed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s criticism of how the country is handling its Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Morrison last night likened New Zealand’s continued focus on eliminating Covid with its highly contagious Delta strain to living in a cave and “absurd”.

“Any state and territory that thinks that somehow they can protect themselves from Covid with the Delta strain forever, that’s just absurd,” Morrison told the 9 News Breakfast show today.

Robertson told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that he disagreed with Morrison and backed the country’s elimination strategy until experts advised otherwise.

“All of the experts continue to tell us the best strategy that we can take at the moment is elimination.

“I just don’t see it the way that Scott Morrison and others are presenting it and certainly every public health expert I speak to says that what we’re doing right now is exactly the right strategy for New Zealand.”

Robertson said elimination had given the country one of the strongest economic responses and one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

So far this morning the Ministry of Health has released eight more locations of interest, including three more Pak’nSave supermarkets, two Farmers stores and another university campus.



“Covid is a new different world,” Morrison said.

“We need to get out there and live in it. We can’t stay in the cave, and we can get out of it safely,” he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also backed New Zealand’s elimination strategy, telling Coast FM she wasn’t “too fussed” by what Morrison had said and all the decisions made over the past 18 months were about New Zealand and not what other countries thought.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker told RNZ that people needed to remember that elimination was being achieved still in some countries and even states in Australia.

“It’s largely a political statement,” he said of Morrison’s comments. “Elimination is a political choice.”

As for wage subsidy, Robertson said he expected to see the number of businesses seeking the subsidy to increase.

At the moment it was primarily being sought by small businesses.

Money had been set aside for the subsidy, “the cash is on hand if we need to use it,” he said.

Because the economy had rebounded so well after last year’s lockdown debt levels were lower than expected.

Briscoe Group boss Rod Duke told Hosking it was both a reputational decision and a bottom line decision not to take the wage subsidy this time around.

“It’s probably a bit of both. I think we are of the view it is probably not going to last that long and have greater effect this time.”

However, that view could change if New Zealand ended up locked down like some of the states in Australia.

Duke said he expected the government to take a regional approach to bringing the country out of lockdown.

“I can see the South Island probably moving out of level four sooner rather than later for a start.

“I can see the rationale for leaving all the North Island in given the two major centres of Wellington and Auckland are in some trouble. I think with the meeting on Friday I honestly believe you will see the South Island come out to at least level three.”

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