INDEPENDENT NEWS

MIQ Changes Don’t Go Nearly Far Enough

Published: Thu 28 Oct 2021 01:30 PM
The Government’s changes to the cruel MIQ system are a start but they need to go much further and much more quickly, says National’s Covid spokesperson Chris Bishop.
“As I revealed last week, fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand, with a negative pre-departure test, pose negligible risk.
“Just two fully vaccinated travellers out of 20,000 or so people who have been through MIQ since August 23 have tested positive on day eight or later, indicating MIQ could be reduced immediately to seven days without any real risk.
“While fully vaccinated travellers with no Covid have been spending 14 days in MIQ, more than 200 people with Covid have been isolating at home in Auckland.
“The tragedy is that these changes could and should have happened much sooner. The Government only started recording the vaccination status of people arriving into MIQ from August 23. Why didn’t this happen sooner? The Government has never given an adequate explanation as to why it didn’t bother to collect the data earlier than August 23.
“If we had the data from vaccinated travellers in April or May, potentially tens of thousands more people could have come safely through the border much earlier than now.
“The Government’s changes should also go much further. This is about the bare minimum that the Government could have done, and it won’t help Kiwis offshore desperate to return home. The stories of human misery and hardship that populate the inboxes of Members of Parliament are harrowing. The sooner we can end this lottery of human misery, the better.
“We need to quickly move to a situation where fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk jurisdictions do not have to isolate at all, assuming they have a negative pre-departure and post-arrival test. National would introduce this once New Zealand is at 85 per cent fully vaccinated, which is only weeks away. This would mean thousands of travellers from places such as Queensland could be home for Christmas.
“National’s ‘Opening Up’ Plan also calls for travellers from medium-risk locations, such as parts of the US, the UK and some states of Australia, to be allowed to skip MIQ and isolate at home for seven days.
“It’s time we reopened to the world. We can’t remain shut behind the walls of Fortress New Zealand. Today’s news is a good start, but there is so much more to do.”

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