Former Prime Minister Sir John Key says Kiwi businesses shouldn't have to go bankrupt just because some people are worried about knives sticking to their arms.
Key told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB said he was constantly getting approached by business owners in Auckland that were "quietly going broke".
It wasn't as if they could borrow a billion dollars to get through Covid and he slammed the Government's current Covid strategy, which was based on fear.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit back at Key's suggestions the Government was using fear, hope and luck as motivators for people to get vaccinated, telling The Am Show that it wasn't luck, it was their plan for the country to have the lowest case number in the OECD, the lowest death rates, an economy that returned to pre-Covid levels and some of the fewest restrictions any country had experienced.
Key cited cigarette packets; the scary photos didn't put people off smoking but either putting the price up or patches did.
He was frustrated by Ardern's inability to deliver certainty to business and said the country couldn't carry on what it was doing - it had to reopen.
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"We actually need to come up with some tension resilience and get people vaccinated."
Key said the Government knew that Kiwis were decent, compliant people - proved by the lockdowns - but the reality was the Government won't get the last 20 per cent without doing something radical like banning people from outdoor concerts.
"That's not a radical thing by the way, our daughter was in Paris a few weeks ago ... and if you don't have your vaccine passport you're not going to get in there."
The country should not go broke just because a few people were worried about getting vaccinated and being worried about a knife sticking to their arm.
Key told the AM Show that New Zealand needed a game plan for opening up.
Officials instead peddled fear and was why Ardern got Shaun Hendy to prove that an enormous number of people could die if they didn't get vaccinated, Key said.
"Fear and hope are not a strategy - they don't actually work."
There needed to be some carrots and sticks in the system and he suggested telling young people who were under no pressure to get vaccinated that they couldn't go to events like Rhythm and Vines, or to a nightclub or get on a flight and see how many of them still think spoons will stick to their left arm where they are getting the vaccine put in.
Covid-19 had been around for 18 months and the reason the country locked down hard and fast because it failed to buy the vaccines when it was offered them, he said.
Lockdowns were costing New Zealand costing about a billion dollars a week - and the big bill would catch up on the country later down the track.
The Government would ultimately not be able to deliver on certain policies because it was paying the interest on its Covid debt.
If someone chose not to get the vaccine, it was their personal responsibility.
"If you are Destiny Church or you're these bunch of people I see protesting all the time - they are never going to change their minds, so what are you telling me, the country is never going to open up?"
He said leadership was needed and Kiwis needed surety from the Government around how many people needed to be vaccinated and when the border would reopen.
Ardern told RNZ the government had been making policy based on the best evidence, and released information behind its decision-making.
"Just making sure that people know that our researchers and evidence overseas is telling us that a high vaccination rate doesn't stop outbreaks. I think it's just important information for people to know."
Ardern says many countries had kept border restrictions in place despite having large numbers of vaccinated citizens.
Ardern told TVNZ she was "absolutely" happy about the five million vaccinations administered so far - but continued to call on people to go out and get vaccinated.
Asked about lockdowns, she acknowledged that that was the only way New Zealand was able to protect itself before this.
But when vaccination rates got to a higher percentage rate, fewer restrictions could be imposed, Ardern told TVNZ.
"We need there to be good spread [of vaccination] - we need it to be across ages. But when you get up around those 90 marks, then you start seeing it really make a difference to day to day life."
People understood that the higher the vaccination rate, the better, she said.
Asked if a vaccine passport was a reality for New Zealand, Ardern said it was something that the Government was considering.