The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit

Our kindly PM registered her return to work as leader of the nation with yet another statement on the Beehive website, the second in two days (following her appointment of Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council on Wednesday).

It’s great to know we don’t have to check with Twitter to learn what her government is doing and/or what she thinks about the big issues of the day.

More fascinating, her press statement – at first blush – seemed to conflict with an announcement on Tuesday from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

This advised us that the Government is putting in place a new set of measures to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants.

Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” said Chris Hipkins.

“New Zealand is currently in a very fortunate position with no community cases – let alone of new variant types – but we take nothing for granted.

“That’s why we continue to take action, with very specific steps to further strengthen our response at the air border.” Continue reading “The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit”

Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies

The tightening of the border to keep new strains of Covid-19 at bay and demands to hasten the Covid-19 vaccination programme have dominated political debate – at least insofar as press statements provide a measure – in recent days.

Opposition parties have been much busier than the government – or have made much more noise – by releasing several statements on Covid-19 issues since Sunday.

But one of those, posted on both the Scoop and Voxy websites on 11 January in the name of National’s Chris Bishop, perhaps should be discounted because it is a repetition of a statement he released on December 28:

“The announcement today that from early next year all returnees from the UK and US will require pre-departure testing is a sound decision and one that the National Party has been calling for since August when we proposed a Border Protection Agency, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop.

This would have made more sense late last year but not early this year, because “early next year” now refers to early 2022.  Moreover, Point of Order could find no government announcement about returnees from the UK and US on January 11 to trigger Bishop’s remarks. Continue reading “Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies”

The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested

Having reminded Parliament that New Zealanders in October elected a majority Government for the first time under our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and that the Government enjoys the confidence of a clear majority of members in the House of Representatives, the Speech from the Throne set out the policy programme we can expect to be implemented.

The first objective is to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID and:

“The first layer of defence is our border.  With COVID cases increasing around the world, in a growing number of countries, the risk of travelers arriving at the border with COVID increases.  The Government will continue to strengthen border protections.  Testing, infection control procedures, and professional and quality staffing will remain cornerstones of the response.”

But the speech also signalled the Government’s intention to

“ … create opportunities for businesses to access the skills they need.  The Government will ensure that up to 10 percent of places in our managed isolation facilities are used by people granted exceptions to enter New Zealand to contribute to accelerating our recovery.”

Before the day was done, exemptions were announced to enable 2000 more workers under the “recognised seasonal employers” scheme (RSE)  to enter New Zealand from January next year. Continue reading “The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested”

It looks like a family-friendly policy but border curbs have been eased because favours for film folk set a double standard

Information on the Immigration Department website seems to spell out a rigid line on the opening of our borders, which would raises the risk of importing Covid-19.  It says:

The starting point for consideration is that the New Zealand border is closed for all but critical travel, and that protecting public health in New Zealand is paramount.

The critical word – of course – is “critical”.

This word is used also in advice on the Ministry of Health website:

Under Alert Level 1, people in New Zealand are able to travel and mix more freely, and any new COVID-19 cases would be able to spread more quickly.

It’s critical that we keep it out at the border, where there is the greatest risk of COVID-19 coming into the country.

People entering New Zealand must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days and test negative for COVID-19 before they can go into the community.

Some people may apply for an exemption from managed isolation in exceptional circumstances, or for a brief period of leave for compassionate reasons. Continue reading “It looks like a family-friendly policy but border curbs have been eased because favours for film folk set a double standard”