Monday, 29 March 2021

Where is NZ’s Global Travel Taskforce?

“The Government must start taking some of the steps other countries are to chart the course ahead for how we travel in a post-vaccine world,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“On April 12 the United Kingdom (UK) Government will receive detailed recommendations from its Global Travel Taskforce that has been working since November on ‘facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern.’

“In early February the Australian Government outlined its plans for vaccination certificates in anticipation they would be needed for international travel, saying digital certificates would be available to citizens on their Medicare app.

“There should be an equivalent work stream in New Zealand.

“The UK Government will determine when its citizens will be able to resume international travel by 17 May.

“The relative urgency of that decision is being driven by the fact that all adults in the UK will be vaccinated by July.

“We have a bit more time in New Zealand because vaccination of the general population won’t start until July, but that’s no reason not to be planning and providing the guidance and certainty individuals and businesses need to plan.

“Our response to COVID-19 is stuck in a rut of identifying and managing singular elements, such as whether an ethnic group or elite sportspeople will be prioritised for vaccine.

“There doesn’t appear to be anything happening on the big macro elements, like the settings for resuming international travel.

“If there is work being done on these things the Government isn’t saying and this is leaving an unacceptable vacuum.

“The UK Government has already revealed to its citizens that a combination of vaccine, testing and travel passes will be used, while the European Union (EU) is creating a system of COVID certification for travellers wanting to enter EU countries.

“Similar work is underway in the United States, and all three communities’ Governments are talking to one another about standards and protocols.

“Come July, what happens if someone with a form of UK, US or EU safe travel pass wants to come to New Zealand?

“Will we let them in?

“Will we force them to spend 14 days in managed isolation?

“We need to start looking outside our own borders and communicating how the post-vaccine world will work.

“If we don’t do this soon New Zealand risks going from COVID response poster child to an isolated backwater as the rest of the developed world moves on.”