Thursday, 25 February 2021

There is no plan for fortress New Zealand

“Every day we get more evidence that this Government is reluctant to even explore taking a proportionate risk-weighted approach to managing COVID-19,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“When I asked COVID-19 Response Minister in Parliament this afternoon whether he’d received any advice this year on varying quarantine arrangements for travellers arriving into New Zealand based on their country of origin, and therefore their risk of transmitting COVID, he did everything he could to evade seriously addressing the issue.

“We mustn’t ignore that New Zealand is on the brink of being stuck in a rut of our own making, with other jurisdictions, like the Australian states, Taiwan and elsewhere managing COVID-19 very differently.

“Some have been doing this successfully for months, changing the levels of restriction for incoming travellers as the risks have changed.

“Taiwan has been raising and lowering levels based on origin of travel and the new virus strains since last June, while keeping COVID rates incredibly low.

“No one can claim the Australian states haven’t taken keeping the virus at bay seriously, with some, like Queensland and Western Australia being extremely conservative.

“But all are now operating traffic light systems that tailor restrictions like isolation and quarantine to the risk travellers pose based on where they’ve been living and will travel from.

“We’ve seen it in action in the last 24 hours, to our cost, with Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania giving New Zealand travellers the red light until we sort out the South Auckland cluster.

“But with it having been 44 days since Queensland last recorded a locally acquired case and 38 days in New South Wales, you can bet the Australians will be wondering when New Zealand can establish its own traffic light system so they can come our way.

“Others wondering the same thing will be tourist operators, accommodation providers and hospitality businesses in places like Queenstown and the ravaged South Island West Coast.

“Fortress New Zealand can’t go on forever.

“The Government needs to start doing more work on what next, and helping New Zealanders plan by telling us what that might look like.”