LISTEN: National's new leader has used Auckland's Freedom Day to criticise the government's lack of support for struggling hospitality businesses.
After 107 days in lockdown, the city reopened on Friday under the new traffic light framework.
Christopher Luxon, who was appointed National Party leader on Tuesday, says while there are some freedoms there's a lot more the government could be doing.
"Why is Auckland in a red light system? Why are we giving free trips to the zoo rather than actually putting people into the hospitality industry here? I think there's a lot that can be done to help this sector," he told Lloyd Burr Live.
Over the last month, Luxon says he has met with more than 20 businesses in Auckland's hospitality sector.
"They've done it tough. I mean, brutally tough.
"It's great to see people back in the Viaduct again but they're under quite a few restrictions still.
He says business owners are "more worried" about what late January-February might look like, "when things get really tough for them", post the festive season boom.
Luxon says the government did not prepare for 2021 and the COVID-19 Delta outbreak.
"When you've got vaccine passes sort of being made up on the fly, you've got ICU beds that haven't increased at all 12 to 15 months and saliva-antigen testing. It really does come down to a thematic which is do you sort of PR and spin your way through it - but you need the implementation and the delivery.
"I don't understand why the management and the implementation haven't been executed better."
While he concludes the government has let down the hospitality sector, Luxon says it's good to see Auckland reopen again.
"People are excited which is great," he told Magic Talk.
Listen to the full interview with Christopher Luxon above.
Magic Talk | Lloyd Burr Live, weekdays from 4pm