“The Government should end its effective ban on travel to New Zealand now that even the World Health Organisation has advised against it,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“WHO recently released advice for international travel in relation to Omicron:

“Lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by States Parties. The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.

“Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

“Travel bans no longer make sense in an Omicron world.

“MIQ was defeated by Delta. There are more Omicron cases in MIQ, perhaps because its shorter incubation period evades pre-departure tests, and they’re more likely to escape once there. Omicron will be out sooner than Delta was.

“The dates for reconnecting with the world can’t keep shifting to delay the inevitable. The Government should be clear that once Omicron’s here, the costs of MIQ far outweigh any benefits and allow home isolation for people entering New Zealand immediately.

“It doesn’t make sense to force Kiwis through MIQ when there is already widespread community transmission of Omicron.

“The goal must be minimising hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 with a laser-like focus on protecting the vulnerable.

“The elderly are an obvious vulnerable group. There should be an all-out sprint to get them and other vulnerable groups to the front of the booster queue. The Government should make clear how vulnerable people will be supported in isolation, with food, home care and, if necessary, oximeters.

“Yesterday, we heard no plan for the border. When can Kiwis come home to their own country? How long will MIQ continue when there’s widespread community transmission of Omicron? Is the Government communicating with airlines to ensure flights still come here when we do open up?

“We can’t go on like this, families have been torn apart and businesses can’t get workers. It’s time for honesty and certainty.”