This report provides a pathway toward safer scaling-up of New Zealand's border capabilities. Up to a million Kiwis live overseas with a right to return to New Zealand. While the country is now effectively free of COVID-19, with cases only in the country’s quarantine facilities, the pandemic rages abroad and is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Even if a vaccine is developed this year, scaling up its production will take time. In the meantime, the government must scale up its own capabilities and capacity within its managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Recommendations for the NZ Government:
- Set a principle to allow safe entry into New Zealand
- Recognise that entry from safe places by people who have not recently been to risky places is safe. Re-open the border to entry from Taiwan and the Covid-free Pacific Islands and assess whether individual Australian states could be considered safe
- Support the Pacific Island neighbours in ensuring safe external borders
- Continue to assess the adequacy of safety protocols on flights to risky places and at airports handling passengers from risky places
- Allow greater scaling-up of managed isolation
- Layering additional safety protocols for non-citizens arriving from risky places to further reduce risk as numbers increase, such as post-isolation testing and daily health check-ins
- Consult with New Zealand’s epidemiologist community over the medium term as both testing and app-based technologies develop to assess whether alternative sets of restrictions could reduce risk at lower cost for travellers from less risky but not risk-free places.