“How many managed isolation and quarantine places are being taken by essential workers?” asks ACT Leader David Seymour.

“If the Government is prioritising New Zealanders over key workers, and shutting the latter out of MIQ facilities, the current border exceptions mean little.

“The lack of room at MIQ facilities shows the Government must urgently expand capacity by engaging the private sector.

“The border exceptions for key workers mean little if there is no room at MIQ facilities to house them. MIQ hotels right now are near capacity.

“The City Rail Link, for example, needs to bring French engineers into the country. Other key projects risk grinding to a halt if the Government fails to create clear rules for a user pays, marketplace of managed isolation. The Government has again been too slow and too clumsy to engage the private sector on this issue.

“The Prime Minister said this morning she was open to allowing universities to run their own MIQ facilities. What’s the hold up? If we don’t welcome students back soon, they will go elsewhere.

“The education and horticulture sectors are desperate for students and workers. Universities with hostels, and RSE employers required to provide accommodation at a certain standard, should be trusted to bring students and workers in under strict rules administered by WorkSafe with appropriate penalties. Those penalties should include managed isolation rule-breakers finishing their fortnight in jail.

“Some hotels are going broke and Air New Zealand is being paid not to fly. Instead, the airline and hotels could offer a private managed isolation package to essential workers and others prepared to pay and wait for time in New Zealand.

“Allowing private providers to offer managed isolation would also expand our capacity. We risk the economy slowly grinding to a halt as projects of all kinds wait on essential workers from overseas, unless we find a way to safely reengage with the world.

"Some people will say the private sector can't be trusted. Really? What about the Government? It has totally failed at the border. People have escaped and private health data has been left hopelessly vulnerable.

“There’s no doubt people should have to contribute to the cost of managed isolation, but why should they be forced to pay an incompetent government monopoly providing a limited number of spaces?

“The role of government is to set clear rules of the game so New Zealanders stay safe and business can get on with creating jobs and growth.”