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Kate Hawkesby: Enough of 'being kind' to returnees refusing to take Covid 19 tests

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 9:30am
Jacinda Ardern and Megan Woods. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: Enough of 'being kind' to returnees refusing to take Covid 19 tests

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Jun 2020, 9:30am

An empty slogan like "be kind" was never going to last, and now the rubber's hitting the road, I see that kindness is a distant memory in the rearview mirror.

Kiwis are still angry about the border, the cock-ups, and all the people returning home.

I'm not mad about people coming home.

Many of them have good reason to come home later: Those undergoing overseas cancer treatment; those finishing job contracts rather then returning earlier just to go on the dole here; those finishing up scholarships or internships and reluctant to throw away valuable opportunities they may not get back.

Not everyone coming back now is just someone who wanted to holiday in Europe a bit longer.

Most of these Kiwis know they're coming back to quarantine, they expect it, some even say they'd be happy to pay for it if it was an option.

But the one thing I do find galling at the border, is those who are refusing tests.

Seventy-nine people that we know of so far.

How is refusing a test even an option?

Why hasn't the Government tightened up that law while they're busy tightening everything else up?

How is it still voluntary, and not compulsory?

Those who say no to a Covid-19 test, are taking the Mick.

We didn't work as hard as we did and sacrifice as much as we have, our little team of 5 million, only to have a few people assume they're above all that and can just swan back home without a test. No siree, that's not the way it should go.

Auckland University Professor of Medicine Dr Des Gorman said over the weekend that there should be no negotiation on this. He said, "any border control has to be low-trust, high surveillance. It shouldn't just be discretionary. Once you enter the border and go into quarantine, there shouldn't be any negotiating about whether you have tests or not".

I couldn't agree more.

At this stage of the pandemic - which we're told is "growing not slowing" - it should not even be an option to refuse a test. The test goes with the territory of coming home and isolating, surely.

Gorman told Newshub: "It's vital the border is secure to ensure the day comes when [health officials] are no longer needed. There's an expectation from the public that health officials will actually achieve a level of behaviour which is consistent with that demonstrated by the public."

He said he believes the public "feels understandably betrayed".

I get that people want to quote the Bill of Rights. I get that everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment, on that basis.

But these are, as we keep being told, unprecedented times. We have come so far, why would we want to squander that by allowing those coming in, to pick and choose if they want a test or not?


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