Monday, 26 July 2021

ACT’s private MIQ would be safer than government MIQ

“MIQ is the bottleneck starving the New Zealand economy of the skilled people businesses need to grow and compete,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“ACT has a plan to expand MIQ places and make it safer than what the Government is doing now. Under ACT’s plan, owners of currently mothballed hotels could seek a licence to operate MIQ according to strict criteria.

“New Zealand is losing business to countries that have a plan to reconnect, while our Government frets and marks time.

“Introducing the cohort model, where MIQ hotels fill up for a couple of days before being sealed for the duration of quarantine, has reduced the effective capacity of MIQ. If few people arrive on the days that a hotel is open for business, it must operate below capacity for the remaining fortnight.

“However, the cohort model has also made MIQ dramatically safer. If there is an outbreak within a hotel, it can be contained without tracing people who’ve left over previous days, because nobody has. The cohort model is a threat and an opportunity for expanding safe access to New Zealand.

“Businesses are in despair as they often can’t find people with critical skills in a New Zealand labour market that is red hot.

“New Zealand has a hotel industry where much capacity has been mothballed. Providing private MIQ could be a lifeline for them.

“The export education industry is desperate to engage with students. Those that have approached the Government with private MIQ proposals have been rebuffed. They are now losing business to other countries that are opening up, such as Canada being open to vaccinated travellers.

“With every passing day, New Zealand’s isolation is turning from its great strength to its greatest weakness. As the rest of the world moves on from COVID, we must be prepared to move with them.

“Under ACT’s plan, owners of currently mothballed hotels could seek a licence to operate MIQ according to strict criteria. These criteria would make for safer MIQ than the standards met by the Government. The criteria are:

  • Only those with a negative pre-departure test would be eligible
  • Only vaccinated travellers could use this MIQ
  • Only vaccinated people could be on site, regardless of their employment status
  • All people on site would have to be saliva tested every second day
  • Providers must be licensed, and could lose their licence for breaching these conditions.

“These criteria are much stricter than the Government’s MIQ scheme which takes unvaccinated travellers and tests them only three times in 14 days, and still can’t guarantee that all workers on site are vaccinated or tested.

“The eight-week closure of the border with Australia will not be the last such closure, as the Government seeks to manage changing COVID risk from around the globe. Private MIQ capacity will be an essential tool when bubbles pop and suddenly thousands need to isolate on repatriation.

“The simple question for the Government is: do they want to safely reconnect with the world, or keep us in crisis mode forever?

“This simple and safe model will allow businesses to get back to hiring the people they need to compete and grow. It will mend the heartache of separated families. It is objectively safer than what the Government is doing now. What objection does the Government have that justifies separated families and stalling businesses?”