“The Government needs to explain the costs and benefits of the staggered border opening that stretches through to October, because it looks like they’re making it up as they go,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Over the weekend we learned that the Government has paid U.S. firm Annalect for four-daily analysis of New Zealander’s sentiments on COVID-19. That came after learning the Government ignored official advice that MIQ no longer made sense in November. It’s getting hard to trust that the Government is guided by anything other than political opinion.

“In March I asked the Prime Minister: "How many cases and hospitalisations will New Zealand avoid by waiting another six weeks to open the border to all tourists, and can she explain why this reduction in cases and hospitalisations is worth the cost of continuing isolation to businesses, families, and people up and down New Zealand?"

“Her answer: ‘When it comes to how many additional cases we receive, even if you had half, possibly 65 per cent of previous returnees, you're looking at about an additional thousand cases on top of what you're already receiving in any given week.’

“In other words, the Prime Minister hadn’t a clue what the impact of closing or opening the border might be then, she should explain her decision now. How many cases will opening the border to non-visa-waiver countries lead to, what is the rationale for doing it now instead of six months ago, what is the benefit of leaving the border closed to non-visa-waiver countries?

“ACT predicts the Government will have no answers to these questions. They aren’t following public health advice, let alone doing proper cost benefit analysis. They are making up the rules as they go with a wet finger in the air to test the wind.

“The costs of excessive and unjustified restrictions are showing up in the price of everything. Halting production by closing the border means people can’t access the goods and businesses can’t get the staff. Restrictions at the border contribute to inflation, because there’s too much money chasing after too few goods.

“We need rational COVID policy based on public health advice combined with cost benefit analysis, not playing with people’s lives on the whims of social media listening."

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