“The Government has staged a quiet, Friday afternoon backdown on vaccine mandates, updating the MBIE website so that unvaccinated citizens and residents can re-enter the country without isolation,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“As recently as Thursday, unvaccinated citizens and residents were required to go through MIQ upon returning to New Zealand. As of 11:59pm Friday, the requirement was dropped and anyone in MIQ for being unvaccinated was released on Friday afternoon. 

“This is good news, as ACT said five weeks ago, there has been no need to make unvaccinated Kiwis go through MIQ for a long time now. Omicron is a whole new virus, and even ardent supporters of vaccination such as myself have to admit it is less effective against this variant.

“It is time to move on from rules that don’t make sense, including requiring vaccination. However, the removal of vaccine requirements for those entering the country brings the use of vaccine certificates and the traffic light system into further question.

“If the Government accepts that we don’t need vaccination to enter the country, why does it think we need vaccination to live in it? The Government has now said it will end the vaccine pass on April 13th, if you can enter the country without being vaccinated now, why can’t you live in it now?

“Furthermore, there is a question about the Government’s transparency. It made a host of decisions in Cabinet on Monday, such as opening the border to tourists, and announced them on Wednesday. When did it make the decision about vaccination for returning Kiwis?

“It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Government is staging a stealthy backdown from its various COVID restrictions. They should just be honest and move on from rules that don’t make sense. It's time to move on rather than subject the country to a drawn out face-saving exercise.

“An open and transparent Government would be up front about the changes that it makes rather than dumping them on a Friday afternoon to save face."