Social Distancing and Travel
All New Zealanders are being asked to adjust their daily routines and to follow simple hygiene protocols in order to slow the spread of the virus here. This includes things like:
- Washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap, particularly after coughing, sneezing, touching commonly used surfaces, or using the bathroom.
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue.
- Avoiding close personal contact with anyone who is unwell.
Additionally, all non-citizens and non-residents are banned from coming here after today, and anyone else coming into New Zealand is required to self-isolate on arrival for at least 14 days. This is because the current incubation period for the virus is believed to be between 2 to 10 days, with an average period of 5 days. Common symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus are much like those of the flu: a dry cough, high fever, and shortness of breath.
If you are feeling unwell and are exhibiting these or other flu-like symptoms, and you have recently returned from overseas or been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 please contact the dedicated Healthline number (which differs from their usual contact number) on 0800 358 5453 for further advice.
The government has also announced restrictions on large social gatherings. Current advice is that gatherings of more than 100 people should not continue.
While I am supportive of the government’s response so far I am also well aware of the need for a greater testing capacity in New Zealand. The government needs to widen the criteria so that anyone displaying clear symptoms can be tested. It is currently proving difficult for many people to get tested, and the evidence is clear from other countries, such as South Korea, that more testing is vital to slowing the spread of this virus.
For a full range of official advice and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 coronavirus, please visit the Ministry of Health’s website using the following link: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
If I or my office can be of assistance during this challenging time please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 09 572 0000 or emailing PakurangaMP@parliament.govt.nz.
COVID-19 Financial Aid Package
The government this week announced a $12 billion financial aid package to help Kiwi families and businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
I applaud the government on moving quickly to provide some economic relief, but I am of the opinion that more will be needed and fast. A key issue with this package is the wage subsidy for businesses, which is capped at $150,000 per employer or about 21 full-time employees. This is great for small businesses but leaves medium and large businesses out in the cold. The government will need to provide some assurances to them fast in order to save jobs and ensure they are ready to kickstart the economy once the COVID-19 situation improves.
I am also supportive of the $500 million health boost to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, but am concerned that around $200 million of that is being held back for future purchases of things like medical supplies and flu vaccines. Surely we should be stockpiling these supplies now. It is far better to have them and not need them than be choosing some lives over others.
Overall, I and the National Party are intent on working with the government to ensure all Kiwis get the support they need during these uncertain times. If you are a local business owner, please feel free to get in touch if you wish to discuss this further, otherwise more information on the support available and how to access it can be found at https://www.beehive.govt.nz/feature/covid-19-economic-response-package.
Public Meeting on Social Housing
As you will be aware I was planning to host a Public Meeting next Tuesday 24 March on the subject of Social Housing with MP for Tamaki Simon O’Connor.
As a result of the COVID-19 situation we have made the decision to cancel this meeting and instead hold a Facebook Live discussion online on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SimeonBrownMP. This broadcast will occur at the same time as the meeting was scheduled, 7:00pm on Tuesday 24 March. Please tune in if you have an interest in this topic and feel free to send any questions you would like answered to PakurangaMP@parliament.govt.nz.
I otherwise urge you all to be safe and smart as we manage this trying time, and look out for your neighbours.