The Finance Minister says work is underway to reduce the country’s reliance on lockdowns and managed isolation.
Addressing the trans-Tasman Business Circle in Auckland today, Grant Robertson said that in the next few weeks the government would reveal its road map for easing border restrictions.
Fresh from a post-Budget tour of the country, Robertson said it was time for an immigration reset.
“This is not about cutting a ribbon at the airport one day and everyone coming in but it is about saying how do we use our vaccination process to enable us to start to reduce some of that down in a safe way.”
One idea being considered was at what point vaccinated travellers could bypass managed isolation.
Robertson cautioned, however, that border restrictions would be here for some time to come as the pandemic continued to evolve around the world.
“But that doesn’t mean it will remain as restrictive as it is now. There are opportunities as vaccination rates increase here and overseas to refine our approach.”
The government would share the advice it had received and give the public a chance to hear from the experts, he said.
“Our response will be based on ensuring our people are as protected as possible through high uptake of a reliable, safe vaccine while managing the risks of the virus entering the country through a safe, smart border. This approach will continue to give us options – and in a world where Covid variants are presenting so many challenges, options will stand us in good stead.”
But he said it was important businesses attracted new workers and improved skills with the current workforce.
“It is a two-way street, pay and conditions matter, making sure that we are investing in the training of the current workforce matters and so we think there’s some distance to go before we’re at a point where we say we just haven’t got the people.”
In his speech, he said the government was also looking at how to set up travel bubbles with other countries, following on the heels of the trans-Tasman and Cook Island bubbles.
“We always knew these would have their challenges, but they are an important step to show that we can progressively open up quarantine-free travel,” Robertson said.
“We are continuing to look at how we can do that with other countries, as vaccination rates rise and where it is safe to do so.”
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