Decision gains currency among businesses and politicians

Let us welcome the world again (Auckland Airport Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 3, 2022

A majority of businesses and politicians have welcomed the government’s measures to reopen borders, abolish the notoriously unpopular MIQ system and allow migrant workers and international students in stages but not everyone is happy.

Full vaccinated passengers should be in self-isolation for ten days in their homes while those not vaccinated must enter the MIQ facility on arrival.

Self-Isolation should go

Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ) Executive Director Justin Tighe-Umbers said that some airlines have already stopped flying to New Zealand, while some have hung on with the help of cargo support.

“But the end of February is going to be crunch time. Self-isolation requirements need to go as soon as possible, or some airlines will cut New Zealand from their routes for the third summer in a row. The end of February is when airlines will assign planes to routes where there is some hope of financial recovery,” he said.

Describing the MIQ system as ‘the lottery of human misery,’ National Party Leader Christopher Luxon said that his Party has been calling on the government to end it.

Christopher Luxon, Leader of the National Party (Photo Supplied)

“We are pleased that New Zealanders offshore now have some light at the end of the tunnel. Today’s announcement is a victory for the 100,000 people who signed the National’s petition to end MIQ and the one million Kiwis around the world who, for the last two years, have been blocked from coming home to their family and friends. It is also good news for businesses and workplaces that rely on New Zealand being open to the world so that they can get the critical workers they need into the country,” he said.

MIQ is senseless

Mr Luxon said that MIQ no longer made sense.

“I know that there will be people who will be sceptical or nervous that the government might not keep to the announced schedule. Therefore, the National Party will hold them to account and ensure that they stick to these commitments,” he said.

ExportNZ Director of Advocacy said that while commodity exports have done remarkably well during challenging times, New Zealand’s manufacturing and tech exporters have been facing tough times due to the inability to travel freely.

“They have navigated global logistics disruptions and price increases, and exporters will now finally be able to plan business travel with confidence. I know that they will be keen to reconnect with old customers and forge connections with new ones,” she said.

Christopher Luxon, Leader of the National Party (Photo Supplied)

Trade delegations important

Ms Beard also welcomed Ms Ardern’s intention to lead trade delegations to some of the most important markets for New Zealand.

“As she said today, New Zealand is in demand. By leading trade delegations to Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States, the Prime Minister has demonstrated the importance that trade will have in our economic recovery as we all look to find our footing in a post-Covid environment. While the announcement is a great step forward, international airlines will be seeking clarity as to when travellers can expect to arrive without needing to self-isolate. “That’s when I expect you’ll see passenger volumes increase and air cargo becomes more affordable again,” she said.

Mr Tighe-Umbers said that New Zealand used to earn $17 billion from international tourism but this plummeted to $1.5 billion in 2020.

“New Zealand businesses that have worked hard to create that value have lost more than $15 billion and hence every day counts for the people running these businesses and the people who work for them. It is essential that New Zealand opens quarantine-free the minute our Omicron risk is the same as the rest of the world,” he said.

According to him, many countries that have seen a wave of Omicron are acknowledging that borders are no longer an effective tool to fight Covid and are moving to quarantine-free entry.

“The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and a growing number of EU countries are all allowing quarantine-free entry to qualified, fully vaccinated, foreign travellers,” he said.

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