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The Central Otago community is clearly determined to put the pandemic behind it going by its very strong vaccination rates.

Central Otago has been ranked as one of the most vaccinated regions in New Zealand as the Government’s vaccine roll-out continues to ramp up.

The Government has pinned its hopes on a 90% vaccination rate, a number my National colleagues and I think prolongs the impacts of the pandemic and extends the South Island’s Level 2 limbo for too long.

It should be noted that National is well aware that not every adult is in a position where they can be vaccinated and we do not support New Zealand being divided into two tiers of citizens because of this, as the Prime Minister has suggested.

Central Otago’s big numbers of vaccinated people are the result of many factors, including the desire among our communities to end restrictions.

When one of the world’s most picturesque and popular tourist destinations is cut off from international and travellers the results are devastating.

It has been an incredibly long and painful 20 months for many businesses and members of our communities.

It is clear the Central Otago community is doing its bit, but the Government hasn’t matched our efforts recently or at the beginning of the pandemic.

My National colleagues and I urged the Government to ramp up the vaccine roll-out months before Delta arrived in New Zealand.

Central Otago’s vaccination rates now that vaccines have been made available suggest that our region would have pushed past Labour’s 90% vaccination target many months ago had the Government responded accordingly.

That would have seen a thriving Central Otago summer free of the restrictions in place right now.

But now our region is still paying the price for the Government letting its guard down.

We did the hard work last year to rid our country of Covid but even as far back as 18 months ago, the Government hasn’t matched those efforts.

All we have right now is announcements of further announcements, a vague idea of a possible move to a traffic light system and ministers shooting off remarks about the possibility Aucklanders will be in Central Otago over summer.

What this region deserves is certainty and that is why my colleagues and I continue to lobby for the Government to stop playing catch up and start delivering the planning and certainty New Zealanders are desperately seeking.

Other nations are ending restrictions and there is no reason why we should be left behind.