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Have we missed something?

29 June 2021

Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city – is facing further social and business disruptions, due to continued Alert Level 2 restrictions as a result of a visitor with Covid from Sydney, more than a week ago. 

I am trying to understand why we opened our borders to Australia, when they have had Covid outbreaks in several states, have struggled to prevent community transmission, and now have the outbreak in Sydney that’s resulted in a complete lockdown over there. 

And yet, New Zealand continues to restrict the entry of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers from Covid-free, Pacific Island countries, due to limited Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities. 

This just doesn’t make sense to me.  Workers from Covid-free Pacific Island countries have to go into quarantine and yet visitors from Australia – a country with community transmission of Covid – could enter New Zealand freely and without time in MIQ, at least until very recently.

By allowing seasonal workers entry from Covid free Pacific Island countries, New Zealand has the opportunity to continue to grow its own economy and support the Pacific Island economies that are suffering immensely from the lack of tourism. 

Instead, New Zealand’s entire labour market is under pressure, as the primary industries compete with the hospitality sector, retailers and supermarkets for a very limited pool of workers, with ever-reducing margins. 

I am sure that, like me, these business people are wondering, ‘have we missed something?’. 

Hei konā mai