COVID-19: National says it would end lockdown by December 1, boost ICU capacity

The National Party has announced its plan to end COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by  December 1.

Leader Judith Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday the party would put an end to lockdowns, reopen New Zealand's economy and "reconnect to the world".

This would happen when New Zealand hits 85-90 per cent vaccination, along with district health boards and age-based milestones, or on December 1. She said they would implement the changes based on whichever comes earlier.

Collins said it's possible to open the country back up before December.

"It's entirely doable if everyone gets out there and gets their second jab," she told The AM Show.

This comes as National is expected to release its economic plan Back in Business later on Tuesday morning.

"The undeniable fact is we cannot allow things to continue as they are. Our largest city has been in lockdown for almost 10 weeks and there’s still no end in sight. The Government has no plan. It has no targets," Collins said in a statement.

"We have a plan and we have targets – targets everyone can rally behind and commit to. Targets that can give hope to many, many New Zealanders who have almost given up."

National also plans to boost ICU capacity, put rapid antigen testing and saliva testing in place, and step up vaccination of people in vulnerable communities.

Host Ryan Bridge asked if she was concerned about collateral damage if vaccination rates weren't high enough by reopening, but Collins said there "already is collateral damage".

"I was really shocked to find that 85,000 medical procedures and operations had been cancelled in the first six weeks of lockdown… it's a shocking indictment."

The Government hasn't set specific targets for when lockdowns would end but is currently working on a new traffic light-style 'COVID Protection Framework' which will be unveiled on Friday.

Newshub understands Green Light or "Prepare" will be a lot like level 1 while Orange Light or "Reduce" has light restrictions. Red light or "Restrict" would see limited gatherings, potential inter-regional travel restrictions and hospitality businesses would only be open to vaccinated people who'd be separated inside.

However, the idea has been rejected by iwi and Māori representatives who say there are some "very serious issues" with it.