Auckland should open its borders by December, regardless of vaccination levels, says Auckland deputy mayor Bill Cashmore.
The government is in talks about how to possibly allow Aucklanders to travel beyond their region over summer, if the border remains in place.
Cashmore told Checkpoint he was not keen to see a hard border over summer, but hoped “the dawn is coming” for the region.
“There’s always going to be a number that don’t want to be vaccinated, that’s their choice, but we can’t be held to ransom either.
“But most importantly, we don’t want to overwhelm our hospitals and emergency services, so let’s got those [vaccination] numbers as close to being accurate as we can, bearing in mind there will be a plus or minus margin of error.
“I want to see Auckland businesses, I want to see the entertainment going, I really need a haircut, and would like to go out for a nice dinner in town, just like everyone else.”
Even if we do not hit the 90 percent double vaxxed target required to remove the hard border, the region needed to get moving “fairly soon”, he said.
“I would like to see that by December, we’re away, [at] level 1.
“Everyone’s had a chance, you’ve given as many people a chance as possible to get their vaccine… we can’t be held out waiting for everybody.
“They have to be living under a pretty big rock not to understand the risks and the responsibilities [if they choose not to get vaccinated].
“We are locked down and out, and everyone’s sick of it, and it’s time to move forward, we’ve just got to do it at the right time when it’s as safe as practically possible.”
He believed there was a 50 percent chance that could happen.
On the other hand, he said opening the border required some commonsense guidelines like wearing masks, social distancing and maintaining hygiene practices.
Aucklanders had suffered long enough under restrictions, he said, and the people he spoke also did not believe a border around the region over summer was realistic.
“The mayor has got his own views … he might be a little bit more conservative perhaps.”
However, Cashmore said he was not at odds with the mayor, and they get along despite differences in opinion.
“We’ve discussed this [the Auckland border] and we’ve discussed the realities around it, and the mayor is a very sensible man and he knows that Aucklanders, just like I’m saying, are fed up and that’s their first topic of conversation, is their hair or they’re dying to go out to have a nice meal somewhere with their wife or family.
“But he also understands the reality of what could happen if things go drastically wrong.
“My point is that at some stage we’re going to have to take that step and it’s going to be a bit of a leap of faith, and the mayor might be slightly more conservative than I am about when he wants to take that step.”