The health of our communities

By: Angie Warren-Clark

Angie Warren-Clark
Labour MP

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our communities it’s our local organisations who really understand their needs, what’s working and what needs tweaking. It’s so important to have our government in Tauranga seeing what’s happening on the ground, hearing from their frontline staff and local MPs. We recently had the honour of hosting our Minister of Health Hon Andrew Little. He requested this because he was really keen to hear how our Integrated Primary Mental Health and Addiction Service funding is going in our community. Amongst our visits was Pathways, who provide community-based mental health, addiction and wellbeing services. To be in the presence of such a dedicated and skilled team was truly humbling! Their Youth brand ‘Real’ runs ‘Whetū Marewa’, a youth service supporting 12 to 24 year olds living with mild to moderate mental health and addiction-related issues and social stressors. This has been running almost a year now and has been a game-changer for those they support. The youth we heard from shared their journeys from feeling helpless to having hope, goals and dreams of a future.

We can breathe a little easier now the peak of Omicron is in sight and we’re expecting a countrywide plateau, then a drop in case numbers. It’s the right time to review the framework, adapting our restrictions. A number of the tools we developed to face COVID-19 were designed to protect an unvaccinated population from earlier variants. With such high vaccination rates, and the immunity acquired from the current outbreak, we can manage future waves of Omicron with less restrictive settings.

Now at RED, face masks are required for indoor venues but no longer required outdoors. Indoor capacity limits where My Vaccine Pass is used have gone up to 200 people. On April 4th, My Vaccine Passes will no longer be required. There are no capacity limits for outdoor settings which I know is a relief to so many locals in our arts sector. The art, entertainment and culture you bring to the table does wonders for the health and wellbeing of our community. Now we can look and ahead and plan for those big events with confidence.

At ORANGE, we see no capacity limits indoor or outdoor, with face masks required in many indoor settings. At GREEN there will no longer be face masking requirements though they are encouraged as we want people to keep up good health habits, and look after those that are higher-risk. We know that face masks help reduce the spread, especially in indoor settings as it’s supported by a significant body of international evidence.

QR scanning is also no longer required.  On April 4th vaccine mandates will not be required for education, police and defence workforces and businesses who had previously been using My Vaccine Passes. It’s comforting to now be able to look ahead to a new beginning. Of course, if another variant emerges that is more severe, we will understandably take public health advice as to the best approach.