A Royal Commission of Inquiry is seeking the public’s feedback on how our Covid-19 response could have been managed better as the country looks to combat future pandemics.
Life ground to a near halt in March 2020, with the borders shut and the nation locked down as officials fought to keep the virus out.
For many, it came at a huge personal cost.
One man told 1News he attended three tangi online during the Covid lockdowns.
“The impact of not being able to see family, going up to the hospital — very strange. We just felt it was a little bit too much,” he said.
Inquiry chairman Tony Blakely said while New Zealand did well as a whole, there is always room for improvement.
“Were the restrictions we put through essential workers the right mix? Could we have allowed more industries to stay open? Could we have done ventilation of hospitals and stuff better so there was less chance of spread i hospitals? All those types of lessons. There’s a long list of them,” Blakely said.
Submissions are open from today via the commission’s online portal.
The vital lessons learned from Covid-19 will help shape the country’s response to the next pandemic.
The terms of reference for the inquiry, announced by the previous government in 2022, include a number of key decisions around New Zealand’s border and quarantine facilities, community care and isolation, monitoring the spread of the virus, and vaccine mandates.
A third question asking people “to suggest things they’d like us to have a deeper look at” will also be included after the Government expanded the scope of the inquiry, Blakely said.
Disability advocate Becki Moss, a photographer whose work documents the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable communities, hopes there will be greater focus in the future on those with the greatest need.
“I really hope that there’ll be more focus in the future or future pandemics on the Māori and Pasifika communities, rural communities and their access to vaccines and testing, and especially for disabled communities and being able to make sure that they’re actually getting the support,” they said.
People have until March 24 to submit their views.
The Royal Commission hopes to submit its findings by September 30.