The Government would have us believe the managed isolation and quarantine regime has been the saviour of the nation. The Opposition would have it that it has ruined it.
As with most things in the political bear-pit, the reality is somewhere between.
What we can be certain of, is the Government must be heartily sick of the accounts from frustrated and, at times, heartbroken New Zealanders who languish offshore while our restrictions on entry deny them their homeland. That's not to say the Government is unsympathetic, but the clamour for a caring ear has become a cacophony.
Foreign correspondent Charlotte Bellis has brought international focus on the debate with her plea to return to New Zealand for the birth of her child. Hers is no less or more deserving than other cases but her profile inevitably brings more attention.
Our tightened borders spared thousands from infection, and saved countless lives. It was a necessary move that needed to be devised on the hoof. Criticism should be tempered with the acknowledgement that our bespoke system largely functioned as intended.
But the virus has evolved into a transmissible variant beyond most constraints. Completely cutting New Zealand off from the outside world was never a solution and measures to slow the entry of Omicron have done as well as anyone could have hoped. Now it is through.
A staged timeline was outlined late last year, but was abruptly deferred because of the risks presented by the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
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The latest plan states that from the end of February, vaccinated New Zealanders in Australia, and possibly elsewhere, will be allowed to skip managed isolation and isolate at home.
As stated yesterday, the Government should have explored alternatives to safely receive people from overseas earlier. Remote quarantine sites should have been considered for increasing intake, and might have saved the nation from the unnecessary Delta incursion.
To have reached the point of an outbreak, with 126 new community cases yesterday, while still denying citizens passage home is hard to explain to the rest of the world. And even harder for those whose cries for clemency have gone unheeded.
There have been calls to release the throttle-hold on the borders, almost as far back as when the measures were introduced, but the Government has quite compellingly argued for caution. It would appear that the balance is weighted too much on being too closed to those who need us.
It is now clear that if Cabinet wants to relieve itself of constant border headaches, it needed to stop hitting itself over the head with the same, obsolete MIQ tool.