Booking system for managed isolation proposed
September 22, 2020
National will deliver a smarter border allowing New Zealand to safely reconnect with the world and our economy to grow, the Party’s Covid-19 Border Response Spokesman Gerry Brownlee has said.
He issued a statement in Auckland today (September 22, 2020), as the second part of the Party’s Border Security Plan, saying that it will establish safe conditions for skilled and essential workers to re-enter the country, providing relief for the many industries that depend on them for survival.
He said that Covid-19 will be around for a long time and that latest dire projections from Treasury show decades of deficits and sky-rocketing debt.
Defeating the deficit
“National has a plan to defeat the deficit, restore the economy and keep Kiwis safe from Covid-19. We will (a) Implement a booking system for managed isolation facilities to manage more arrivals into New Zealand safely (b) Scale-up managed isolation capacity by allowing private accommodation providers to become approved service providers (c) Investigate streamlined travel arrangements for low-risk countries and territories and (d) Invest in new technologies around Bluetooth tracing and rapid testing,” he said.
New Zealand currently has space for 7300 people in managed isolation at any one time, and up to a third of this capacity is not being used, he said.
National will prioritise returning Kiwis while enabling essential and skilled workers, students and, eventually, long-stay tourists to book a place in managed isolation facilities, he added.
Welcome back essential workers
Mr Brownlee said that New Zealand needs to grow its way out of this economic crisis, which means we need a plan to get essential workers back into the country.
“Our horticultural industry, for example, is desperate to fill the worker shortage created by border restrictions that is putting $9.5 billion of the country’s economy at risk. We will also look at flexible travel arrangements for people entering New Zealand from countries and territories that are Covid-free, such as the Pacific Islands. Flexible arrangements were offered in the Government’s negotiations for rugby tests between the All Blacks and Australia. These options should also be considered, alongside public health advice, for Pacific countries that have no Covid-19,” he said.
Private accommodation providers
He said that the National Party will also develop a long-term solution for safe re-entry by bringing private accommodation providers into the Government-controlled managed isolation network.
But all private facilities must meet or exceed required levels of safety, security, reporting, transporting, training, and testing, as well as meet the associated costs.
“National’s plan will see these costs more evenly shared between those wishing to enter the country and industries who need overseas workers. This, alongside National’s co-payment policy, will help relieve the burden on taxpayers who have had to fork out more than $500 million to date on managed isolation and quarantine,” Mr Brownlee said.
The Broader Border Plan
National Party’s latest announcement builds on earlier plans to put ‘some steel into New Zealand’s border defence by (1) Establishing Te Korowai Whakamaru/NZ Border Protection Agency to provide comprehensive oversight and management of Covid-19 at the border (2) Requiring international travellers to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in New Zealand (3) Making contact tracing technologies compulsory for agency employees, border facility workers, and District Health Board staff who treat or test patients (4) Rapidly deploying Bluetooth applications to enhance contact tracing (5) Striving towards a wait time of no longer than 60 minutes for a Covid-19 test (6) Widening the availability of Covid-19 testing nationwide (7) Regular testing of aged-care workers (8) Allowing future lockdowns to be more targeted and shorter in duration
National’s entire Border Security Plan has been costed at $120 million over four years.