End MIQ now

Tue, 22 Feb, 2022

“Instead of talking about the ‘Welcome Home’ packs New Zealanders will get on their return, Jacinda Ardern should get out of the way and open the border to all travellers”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Today there were 2,846 new cases in the community and just 15 new cases at the border. Pretty soon, there will be so many Omicron cases in New Zealand compared with the rest of the world, it will seem bizarre that it’s us locking them out.

“Jacinda all but asked for a medal when she said the border would be open to New Zealanders in Australia if they isolate for seven days. She should be apologising for keeping unnecessary restrictions that do not make sense for too long.

“It makes absolutely no sense to put people through the torture of fighting for places in MIQ when there 190 times more cases in the community and thousands of Covid-19 cases are isolating.

“In pre-COVID times, around 20,000 people arrived in New Zealand each day. That is 0.4 per cent of the New Zealand population. If those people had Omicron at the same rate as New Zealanders, they would add to daily cases by 0.4 per cent. Requiring a negative test would dramatically reduce that number. We are keeping the border closed to reduce daily case numbers by a fraction of a per cent.

“People are unlikely to travel if they’re ill, most travellers will be people who are unlikely to be hospitalised. The effect on hospitalisation and ICU capacity from opening the border will be unnoticeable.

“There are thousands of people isolating at home with Omicron, but it will still be weeks or months before Kiwis, workers, students and tourists can come here. It’s illogical.

“My email inbox is filled daily with people sharing horrendous MIQ experiences. People stuck offshore with no means to support themselves, families separated, businesses frustrated, people enduring terrible conditions. The Government has not properly weighed these costs.

“The Ministry of Health advised the Government that self-isolating overseas arrivals pose a low risk compared to community cases meaning there’s no public health reason to continue with MIQ.

“On 4 November, the Ministry of Health provided advice to Chris Hipkins about the implementation of a ‘seven days managed isolation, three days self-isolation’ model. The advice said:

'There is a relatively low risk to public health by those arriving by air self-isolating compared to the public health risks posed by community cases or close contacts, particularly in the Auckland region.'

“This confirms what ACT has been saying for months. There is now no public health reason not to ditch MIQ altogether.

“The Government should accept it is wrong and end MIQ in favour of home isolation for negative tested travellers immediately.”