The National Party wants Kiwis returning home from overseas to have tested negative for Covid-19 before being allowed in.
Leader Judith Collins released the party's border policy this morning, which includes mandatory use of contact-tracing technologies - such as the Covid Card - for all overseas arrivals, border-facing workers and DHB staff who treat or test patients.
The idea has previously been floated by Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker as a way to get a head start on contact-tracing in the event of a future outbreak.
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National also wants a new Border Protection Agency to oversee management of Covid-19 at the border, which would be accountable to a dedicated minister.
"The current ad-hoc system of managing Covid-19 at our border – putting various agencies in charge of different facets – has led to a disorderly and confused response," Collins said.
The agency would be in charge of the criteria for people - including foreign workers and students - coming to New Zealand.
National would also require people travelling into the country to sign a health declaration and provide evidence of a negative test before arriving. Their temperatures would also be checked by thermal imaging.
If allowed into New Zealand, they would still have to spend 14 days in quarantine or managed isolation, and be tested on day three and day 12.
The requirement to test negative before arriving might be a burden on returnees, but Collins said that should be weighed against the current lockdown-lite imposed on Auckland.
"It's a very small price for someone to pay."
People overseas unable to get a test wouldn't be able to come to New Zealand, she said.
National's health spokesman Shane Reti didn't think it was a redundant requirement, given that they would still have to spend 14 days in managed isolation and test negative before being released.
Public health experts believe the 14 days' isolation is the best way to contain any possible imported case before allowing a returnee into the community.
Workers in contact with overseas arrivals at managed isolation facilities would have to be tested weekly.
Collins said the failures of border testing meant the party was no longer advocating for the return of international students, as it had done in June.
She said it was a "clear failure of leadership" that the Government had thought border control measures were in place when they were in the process of being delivered.
"If we have the tracing app, something like a Covid Card, testing before people leave to go on a plane, the managed isolation and quarantine tough and solid and able to be relied on, we should be able to quickly detect who bring back to quarantine.
"Lockdown should be the last decision we have to take."
She said even with the best measures in the world, it was always possible for Covid-19 to emerge again.
National also wants to deploy a Bluetooth tracing app to enhance contact-tracing and would investigate options, including the Covid Card - which the Government is also doing.
"Yo-yoing in and out of lockdown is not sustainable for our businesses, for our communities, for our people," Collins said.
Reti said the 80 per cent take-up rate needed for Bluetooth contact-tracing to be useful would be reached by "encouraging" people.
Other aspects of the border policy include:
• Greater access to testing to reach a waiting-time target of no longer than 60 minutes.
• Regular wastewater testing for Covid-19
• Regular testing of aged-care workers and increasing opportunities for testing within aged-care facilities.
Collins said retirees would not have to be tested.
The announcement comes as the Government is on the back foot over the implementation of its border control measures, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern disappointed with the slow progress towards the regular testing of border-facing workers.
NZ First leader Winston Peters also released border policy yesterday, including a single Crown agency and moving the country's managed quarantine and isolation facilities into army bases around the country.