Welcome to a brave new world, perhaps?
Thirteen Regional Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in Hawke's Bay are paving the way for a new form of quarantining in New Zealand as the first to travel in a one-way express lane from Vanuatu to Hawke's Bay.
The group began work this week after a seven-day quarantine in a Government approved facility - skipping the two-week MIQ requirement used to get into the country since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
New Zealand Apples and Pears' chief executive Allan Pollard said the RSE travel bubble was a welcome addition to the region's labour supply and community.
"Historically in Hawke's Bay, about 45 per cent of thinning staff is RSE, about 70 per cent per cent of picking staff is RSE, and about 10 per cent of packing staff is RSE.
"These workers are highly skilled and highly productive, and often do the work that others can't or won't do," Pollard said.
The one-way travel corridor between Vanuatu and Aotearoa opened on October 4 and expanded to Samoa and Tonga on October 12.
RSE workers must complete a seven-day isolation period, with Covid-19 testing on day zero and day five.
The Ni-Vanuatu RSE bubble are now back in the T & G Hastings orchard completing their induction.
Tukituki MP Anna Lorck greeted the workers as they emerged from isolation and commended the group for their support of the region's horticulture industry, as well as their communities and families at home.
"Your safe arrival, along with the hundreds of Pasifika seasonal workers who are due to come from Samoa, Vanuatu, and Tonga in the coming weeks and months, means our horticultural industry enters the new season with far greater confidence," Lorck said.
The one-way travel lane not only provides critical support for growers but also for Pasifika economies, Pollard said.
"The very good money earned in our New Zealand growing and post-harvest businesses is reinvested back in the Islands and has fundamentally transformed families and communities," he said.
T & G senior HR business partner Emillie Tamapara said the T & G team was very happy to have their regulars back, as many of the bubble's members have worked multiple seasons before.
"Lots of the group have worked about 9-10 seasons before. These workers are highly skilled people who are very productive and have strong leadership skills.
"They are critical to us in times of harvest," Tamapara said.
From Tamapara's perspective, the one-way travel lane has already proven its success in its fledgling stage and she hopes more Pasifika bubbles will arrive in the region in the future.
"From our experience, the travel bubble model functions very well. We've been sure to follow strict health and safety requirements throughout all stages.
It's a challenging time at the moment with Covid, but we hope to see more people using the travel lane in the future," she said.
The utilisation of the express lane will be important, as Pollard said the entirety of Aotearoa is expecting a labour shortage for the coming harvest season.
"If, as we anticipate, we have a full crop this coming year, we expect to harvest an additional 115,000 metric tonnes of fruit nationally over last year (about two-thirds of this will be in Hawke's Bay), requiring an additional 2500 workers nationally over last season," he said.
This national deficit of labour is also impacted by fewer backpackers and lower unemployment levels in the country.
Pollard said that even if the same number of RSE workers enter the region as pre-Covid, Hawke's Bay will be about 1200 workers short for thinning in November to December, and about 3000 workers short for the picking and packing season from February to May.
"Having one-way quarantine free travel from those three Pacific countries will make a difference but will not be sufficient to solve the expected labour shortage for the coming season," Pollard said.