New Zealanders have reacted quickly to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement of a plan to re-open our borders, starting with a trial this year of home isolation or shorter MIQ stays for selected travellers.
Speaking at the Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World forum, Ardern announced a roadmap that will eventually see three "pathways of travel" into New Zealand.
For vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries, no isolation would be required.
For vaccinated travellers from medium-risk countries, some isolation would be required – but it could be a shorter stay in MIQ or home isolation.
A pilot will be run between October and December this year to trial that, and businesses and organisations which needed to send staff overseas could apply for that.
Unvaccinated travellers and all travellers from high risk countries would still have to do 14 days in an MIQ facility.
Many expressed concern over the plan to trial home isolation, despite the PM's assurance it would be "tightly run", saying trusting travellers not to breach isolation risked the spread of the Delta variant.
Others asked how we could have confidence that those asked to isolate at home wouldn't breach the rules, as has happened during previous community outbreaks.
"Didn't we ask people to isolate at home before and they didn't?" wrote one commenter on the Herald Facebook page. "Haven't people tried skipping out of MIQ because they don't think they have this virus and later turned out to have it? Is this really a good idea?"
"Some stupid humans don't listen, then stuff it up for everyone," another added.
Home isolation trial
Speaking today, Jacinda Ardern said home isolation would not happen widely this year.
Instead, a trial would take place from October to December of a limited number of vaccinated travellers. It would allow the Government to test the logistics at the border under a self-quarantine model, and the ease of monitoring compliance.
It would only involve New Zealanders who were vaccinated in New Zealand and had travelled for a short period of time to an approved list of countries. They would have to provide self-quarantine plans.
Specific details would be confirmed in September, including an expressions of interest process.
The intention was to work with employers with employees who needed to travel. This provided some extra assurances with some "skin in the game".
Ardern said to those Kiwis overseas wanting to come home the most important thing was that it could be done safely.
There was some extra capacity they were looking to bring on in the short term, but the main systems were outlined in the plans unveiled today.
It was hoped those options, for vaccinated travellers from medium risk countries, would be under way in the first quarter of next year.
The proposal would be "vastly different" to self-isolation as in the early days of the pandemic. This meant people during the trial would not be able to isolate with friends or family members, or even people they travelled with.
"It will be very tightly run."