Saturday, December 4

Decision to test essential workers crossing Auckland border called ‘ridiculous’

Out of nowhere and ridiculous.

That’s Mainfreight’s irate response to Dr. Ashley Bloomfield’s announcement that essential workers crossing the Auckland border must be regularly tested for Covid-19.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

On Thursday, the Director General of Health said he wants people who cross the border to be tested within three to four days, even if they don’t show symptoms.

“We are studying how to put in place a system to verify that these essential commuters are being screened regularly to support our efforts now and in the future,” said Dr. Bloomfield.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said the news completely surprised him.

“There has been absolutely no consultation on this. Our drivers are crossing the border every night, every day, transporting food and water to the nation, working hard, and this comes out of nowhere. It is a ridiculous statement to make without consultation. with the industry and with those on the ground doing the work, “he said.

Managing Director of Mainfreight Don Braid

Managing Director of Mainfreight Don Braid
Photo: Supplied

The Auckland region is the only part of the country that is still under level 4 restrictions, after Northland went to alert level 3 just before midnight last night.

Dr Bloomfield said they will also introduce a system for periodic surveillance testing of certain groups of essential workers.

New Zealand Trucking Association executive director David Boyce said that with thousands of truck drivers crossing the border every day, it would be difficult to implement.

“Many of the drivers who cross the border are long-distance drivers, so they are often away from home for a week at a time, often working up to 13 hours a day.

“The opportunity to go and do these tests every other day would be fraught with difficulties unless they can do a saliva test at the border or something like that,” he said.

Braid said he understood the need for testing, but argued that there must be a better way.

“We are moving forward to vaccinate as many of our drivers as soon as possible. We are also in the process of working on a training program for our people to regularly test saliva, but of course the government is testing for saliva. saliva”. anyway, that’s a very difficult process for our guys who move across the border every day, “he said.

Boyce said truck drivers worked long hours and didn’t want the added pressure of having to undergo periodic PCR tests.

“I think it would just become another challenge in their lives. I mean, they are certainly doing an enormously fantastic job right now keeping supply chains open in New Zealand, but they are working long hours and they are certainly under a bit of pressure. so I can see this adds to that for them, “he said.

Mainfreight’s Don Braid said he was confident they could find a solution with authorities, but that can only be achieved by sitting down and having a conversation.

“You know, consultation would be great. Making decisions on the fly without consultation is very stupid,” he said.

The police have established five separate checkpoints on the roads connecting Auckland to Northland.

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