Coronavirus: ACT's David Seymour slams Governemnt's decision to keep mandatory isolation requirements for COVID-19 cases

ACT Party leader David Seymour is bemused by the Government's decision to keep the mandatory isolation requirements for COVID-19 cases, saying the choice is "totally nuts".

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Tuesday afternoon the Government had decided to keep the mandatory seven-day isolation requirement for positive COVID-19 cases.

Hipkins added the pressure on the health system was a factor when considering whether to scrap the isolation requirement. 

Health Minister Ayesha Verall said expert advice to Cabinet was it was not yet safe to shorten the isolation period but the rules would be reviewed in two months. 

But the decision hasn't gone down well with the ACT Party, with Seymour slamming the Government saying they're treating Kiwi adults like kids. 

"They tell us, 'If we didn't have this isolation period, more people will die' - they don't know how many people comply now. They don't know how many people would comply if it was voluntary," Seymour told AM Early host Nicky Styris.

"So they're just making it up and treating us like kids. It's time for New Zealand to move on and if the Government won't let us do it, then maybe we should move on from this Government."

Seymour said New Zealand is falling behind the rest of the world with its view on COVID-19, noting most other major countries scrapped their restrictions months ago.

"It's just totally nuts… you only have to look around the world. Australia got rid of its restrictions last September. The United Kingdom got rid of theirs last October. I tried to find out if Singapore had got rid of its mandatory isolation period. It said, 'Our website has been decommissioned, for COVID information go to our general health page,'" Seymour said. 

"They've moved on and yet New Zealanders are still made to isolate for seven days. It's probably making the problem worse because people are less likely to test and admit they've got it because they can't afford the seven days."

Seymour believes keeping the mandatory isolation rule is another hit for businesses, saying small firm owners are "beside themselves". 

"I talk to people who run small businesses they say, 'Look, I've done 43 days in a row because I just can't get anyone.' This is an extra cost and extra inconvenience that's not actually making the problem better.

"What we should be doing is what Singapore actually does. Singapore says, 'Use your personal responsibility.' 

"Treat New Zealand just like adults. It's not complicated and it would actually be better at fighting COVID if we let people use their own judgement than have inflexible, unworkable rules."

ACT Party leader David Seymour.
ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo credit: AM

But Hipkins defended the Government's decision to keep the isolation requirement, saying COVID-19 has shown it can impact sectors when people are off sick. 

"If we look at some of the biggest pressure we faced in the education system last year, that resulted in a number of teachers getting COVID-19, being off work. Some schools were then not able to offer their full range of classes. Kids were then rostered home and then parents had to stay home to look after them," Hipkins said on Tuesday.

"We have to weigh up all those factors in making these decisions."

Watch the full interview with David Seymour in the video above.