ZB

'Lottery of human misery': National says open the borders now

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Nov 2021, 3:23pm
Chris Bishop. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Chris Bishop. (Photo / NZ Herald)

'Lottery of human misery': National says open the borders now

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Nov 2021, 3:23pm

The National Party wants an immediate end to MIQ or what it calls the "lottery of human misery", with new data showing low transmission among fully-vaccinated arrivals. 

Under a campaign launched today National would end MIQ for fully-vaccinated travellers from low-risk locations, where there is little or no Covid-19, and require a week at home for those from higher-risk places where the virus is circulating. 

Those travellers would also have to return negative pre-departure tests. 

The party's Covid-19 spokesman, Chris Bishop, said it was premised on new data that showed since August 23 just two fully vaccinated travellers in MIQ have tested positive later than day eight in MIQ. 

Bishop said this would make them comfortable to immediately allow travellers who fit the criteria to even travel to and self-isolate in parts of the country where just half of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. 

The Government has set a target of having at least 90 per cent of the country fully vaccinated at DHB level before moving to its traffic light system, and away from using lockdowns to contain the virus. 

It has also signalled in first quarter of next year a shift away from MIQ for fully-vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries, among other options, but also based on reaching high vaccination rates. 

But while Auckland's three DHBs could potentially hit the 90 per cent target in the coming weeks, the highly uneven nature of the vaccine rollout means some DHBs would not likely to reach equity until the new year, if at all. 

The Government is currently working on options for Aucklanders to travel around the country when that scenario eventuates in a manner that protected lower-vaccinated areas. 

Bishop said he did not believe it would be a problem for fully-vaccinated people to travel to areas like Gisborne, where just 65 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. 

"Fully-vaccinated travellers to New Zealand present negligible risk," Bishop said. 

"Since we started collecting MIQ vaccination data from August 23, just two fully vaccinated travellers in MIQ have tested positive later than day eight in MIQ." 

Bishop said he rejected assertions some regions might be resistant to travellers arriving, saying many businesses were desperate for tourism to return. 

"It's time to end MIQ and allow Kiwis stuck offshore to come home for Christmas," Bishop said. 

"We now have a farcical situation where fully vaccinated New Zealanders, with no Covid, who win the MIQ lottery have to spend 14 days in MIQ in Auckland, while more than 1300 people with Covid or who are close contacts of Covid cases isolate at home in Auckland. 

"This makes no sense. It is unfair, callous and illogical." 

Under National's plan quarantine facilities would remain for some community Covid cases. 

National had previously set its reopening target at 80 per cent eligible fully vaccinated at DHB level and 85 per cent nationally. 

Bishop said they were now aiming for just 85 per cent nationally, based on the new evidence the risk from fully vaccinated travellers was low.