COVID-19: South Islanders feel forgotten as Government fails to include them when talking about 'team of 5 million'

Some South Islanders say they feel forgotten as the Government neglects to include them when talking about "the team of 5 million".

And as the South Island's COVID-free streak increases, so too does the frustration. The virus isn't in the community but it's still closing business doors, with alert level 2 restrictions enough to suffocate firms in the South Island.

"To be in level 3 or 2 or anything is bizarre and especially when it's not backed up by the science," said Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith.

"People are a little bit unsure," said Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson. "We haven't got any COVID yet as we see up in the North Island. 

"Things are moving quite quickly - it is very frustrating for us down here in the South Island."

The Government's hinted at a long-term plan for Auckland - but the South Island is yet to feature.  

"Over the last three Government announcements, the South Island hasn't been mentioned," said Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson.

"We're a team of 5 million and that includes both the North Island and the South Island."

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday had a reminder the coronavirus threat remains in the South Island.

"We have to be aware that COVID could still make its way into the South Island community and by the time we've detected that it could've already started to spread," he told reporters.

Some people, including health experts, have raised the argument for sealing off the South Island as states in Australia have done - keeping some places not only COVID-19-free but also largely restriction-free.  

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