Opening borders arguments

It’s probably almost universally accepted that New Zealand had to close our borders to non-citizens and residents to protect the population from the spread of Covid-19. Despite some mistakes and problems and with some luck that has been very successful, with Covid cases reduced to zero before returning New Zealanders started a dribble of cases – but these have been contained by isolation, quarantine and testing,

There is no doubt that keeping our borders closed is bad for business – especially tourism and international education, but it also affects many others trying to revive  or keep alive their business.

So when we open our borders again, how quickly and to whom is one of the biggest decisions to be made.

Yesterday National leader Todd Muller stirred things up – Todd Muller says keeping border shut ‘untenable’, but PM says opening up soon is ‘dangerous’

Muller was criticised but also what he said was misrepresented.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the idea of opening New Zealand up to countries where Covid-19 is “dangerous”.

Ardern was responding to comments from National leader Todd Muller, who said on Monday that keeping the borders shut until other countries are as free of Covid-19 as New Zealand was “untenable” in the long term.

Speaking to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Muller said New Zealand would be “on its knees” if it waited for a vaccine to be developed or for other countries to completely kill community transmission.

“A strategy that says we stay completely closed to everybody for the next 12 to 18 months is simply untenable. We won’t recognise this country in terms of economic impact,” Muller said.

Ardern said the idea of opening New Zealand up to Covid-19 any time soon was untenable and dangerous.

Ardern and Muller are talking past each other. Muller said “untenable” in the long term and “closed to everybody for the next 12 to 18 months is simply untenable”, but Ardern said “any time soon was untenable and dangerous”.

Unless Ardern sees 12 to 18 months as soon then they are talking about different timeframes.

And if the Government thinks it is untenable to open our borders in 12-18 months, then economically we are likely to have a big problem on top of the major problems we already have.

Some had hoped that a Tasman bubble may be possible in the short term but that has been put on hold after a surge of cases in Victoria – Virus resurgence in Victoria with another 75 cases

The Australian state of Victoria is experiencing a “concerning” upward trend in coronavirus infections, with 75 new cases identified overnight.

The latest cases were “overwhelmingly concentrated” in 10 Melbourne suburbs identified as community transmission hotspots, the state’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

Mikakos said the 75 new cases could be broken down into the following categories:

  • 14 cases linked to outbreaks (positive results in those tested as close contacts of existing cases)
  • 37 cases found by routine testing (general testing sites set up by health authorities)
  • 23 cases still under investigation (some were found late in the reporting day)c
  • One case is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine

So even inter-state travel in Australia is still restricted:

So even though Covid is under far better control in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory any open travel across the Tasman looks unlikely at this stage.

But Europe has just opened their borders to a number of countries including New Zealand for economic/tourism reasons: EU to allow in visitors from 14 ‘safe’ countries

The EU has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed “safe” to be let in from 1 July, despite the pandemic – but the US, Brazil and China are excluded.

UK nationals are still to be treated in the same way as EU citizens until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. Therefore, during that time UK nationals and their family members are exempt from the temporary travel restriction.

On the current “safe” list, still likely to be amended, are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The UK is currently negotiating “air bridges” with several EU member states, so that coronavirus does not totally block summer holidays – the busiest season in Europe for tourism, which employs millions of people.

So Australians and New Zealanders will be able to travel to Europe but we can’t travel to Australia.

And Ardern has said that New Zealanders going to Europe for a holiday will still have to do 14 days isolation. and may not get that provided for free – Kiwis choosing to go overseas could get Covid-19 isolation bill

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern floated the idea at Monday’s post-Cabinet press conference. She has previously been asked about whether all arrivals could have to pay a share of the bill for isolation.

“One message I’m sending clearly to New Zealanders … for anyone who may be considering a non-essential trip, we will be looking at whether or not you end up being charged on your return, because you have choices.

“It’s just not fair to expect New Zealanders to pick up the tab on that.”

It’s not just the opposition calling for re-opening: Border reopening must be priority – Business NZ

The business community pinned its hopes on the border reopening as soon as possible and says the government’s failed to hold up its end of the deal.

Business leaders say billions of dollars of opportunities are on hold while the government and the army fix up mistakes most New Zealanders thought were being managed.

The government is frantically trying to plug those gaps, while at the same time the Opposition ramps up pressure for the border to open.

Almost four million international tourists typically cross New Zealand shores each year and BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said livelihoods depend on that window opening again.

But for now, the government isn’t even resuming compassionate exemptions let alone allowing international visitors in, because there isn’t enough confidence in quarantine and managed isolation facilities.

Ardern:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has thrown the Opposition leader’s own words back at him.

“It is untenable to consider the idea of opening up New Zealand’s borders to Covid-19 and in some parts of the world where we have had frequent movement of people they’re not estimating that they will reach a peak for at least a month or sometimes several months”.

Ardern said even considering opening the border right now was reckless.

“Any suggestion of borders opening at this point frankly is dangerous and I don’t think we should put New Zealand in that position”.

Apart from people whose businesses and jobs are at risk there is still probably widespread support for playing safe here.

It seems a risky political play for Muller to talk this side of the election about reopening the borders.

But the public mood can change quickly – going into lockdown was widely accepted, but once the case numbers dropped many people acted ahead of Government relaxations.

There are big and difficult decisions for the Government to make over border restrictions, but it’s something that should be openly discussed. There is a lot at stake, both in health and with the economy – and there will be many more people losing their jobs than their are getting sick from Covid.

I think it is too soon to reopen our borders now, as that risks losing a lot of what we have succeeded with over the last few months.  But we also have to look ahead at options and possible timings.

Just being told we can’t travel indefinitely is not a tenable option.

I certainly don’t want to catch Covid and risk dying from it, or risk the other health effects. But if our borders remain closed for a year or two my job will be at risk (it has been impacted already). Difficult times, difficult decisions.

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46 Comments

  1. Reply
  2. John J Harrison

     /  30th June 2020

    We should open our border today to Queensland only.
    They have had far greater success than we have, less deaths and cases per 100,000 and an economy that was not decimated as our has been.
    There are 10’s thousands who would love to come over to ski this winter.
    Queensland is super safe as their state borders are secure.
    The figures speak for themselves.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  30th June 2020

      Sunshine limits the virus !
      We are better results than NSW and Victoria, and we have no internal restrictions, with sports games etc( they have cardboard cutouts)
      Speaks for itself

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  30th June 2020

        Duker, dead wrong.
        Sunshine does not limit the virus.
        In Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Texas the virus is running rampant when the daily temperature is circa 100 degree Fahrenheit.
        Stick to facts , not fallacies!
        Queensland is a perfect travel partner as they have been more successful than Jacinda and her team of 5 million.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th June 2020

          Make the distinction between sunlight and temperature. Sunlight kills the virus, temperature doesn’t.

          Reply
    • “Queensland is super safe as their state borders are secure”

      **snort** 3,300 kms of land borders & 7,000 kms of coastline border

      If you’re a Queensland resident returning from any other place in Australia that is not a declared COVID-19 hotspot you don’t have to self-quarantine.

      If you live near the border of Queensland you can continue to cross the border on travel for work or education.

      And if you are a resource sector worker in a hotspot declared by the Chief Health Officer , you don’t need to self-quarantine on return to Queensland because you were in the hotspot for an essential purpose (work).

      We all thought NZ had a pretty secure border, and look at what’s transpired here.

      Reply
      • What happened here was that the PM dithered until the virus was in the country rather than taking advice about testing and isolating from the beginning and then locked us all down. Her words were that she used instinct rather than science and evidence.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  30th June 2020

          You cannot be serious. You’re kidding aren’t you? At the first hint or suggestion of the of the virus being about she should have isolated and locked us all down?

          What is crazy about that is enough complained about what they saw as overreaction as it was. If the most draconian organisation was introduced from the kick-off what would the reactions have been? What is also crazy is the notion that from totally nothing there would have been quarantine for all coming into the country. From 0 to 200kph at the click of the fingers there would have been the organisation to handle thousands coming in and the complex logistical aspects?

          The craziest thing is for you of all people to talk about her dithering and not isolating and locking us all down from the outset and complaining about that. You are one in these forums from the earliest, when there was talk about people being isolated, who consistently talked about mental health and suicides and how those factors mitigated against people being in lockdown.

          Reply
          • Eh ??? I did NOT say that at all. Isolation and lockdown are not synonymous. Isolation is happening now, lockdown is not. Isolation (in this context) means specific people being quarantined for a specific time, NOT the entire country closing down.

            I have NEVER said that we should all have been in lockdown from the beginning; that is a lie.

            Read what I said, which was that proper border testing and isolation/quarantine would have meant that lockdown wasn’t needed. The PM decided that her ‘instinct’ was better than ‘science and evidence’. Thus there was little, if any, testing and isolation and Covid got in. Then we had the draconian lockdown which was among the world’s harshest although we had so few cases.

            Even the MOH wanted Level 2 for four weeks, not what we had; almost three months of 4 and 3. But the PM knew best, with her ‘instinct’ that overrode ‘science and evidence’ (her words, on record)

            How do you explain that during that time 306 more 80+ people died than the average for the time ? That’s too many for it to be chance, I think.

            Please refrain from twisting my words.

            Reply
            • Hello,. PDT, that was quick.

            • The problem was your lack of punctuation in your first sentence made it ambiguous. You’d have been best to put brackets around “rather than taking advice about testing and isolating from the beginning”.

              Not doing so boggled duperez’s mind..

            • duperez

               /  30th June 2020

              What boggled my mind was the claim that the PM ‘dithered until the virus was in the country’ with the implication that decisions should have been made which stopped it arriving.

              What boggled me was expecting us to believe that all the way through Ardern ‘did a Trump’ and did not refer to experts with their science and evidence’ and had them as part of the process. To suggest she just came up with gut feelings and actions for all decisions were simply predicated on that is risible.

              Of course if she stayed out of it through the duration and left it to the MOH to dictate everything from their perspectives you’d be grizzling about that and blaming her if the wheels fell off.

              What should boggle my mind is the experts sitting at home with little responsibility outside their close personal realm saying how things should have been done without the weight of the range and depth of myriad factors, and with the luxury of doing it in hindsight. I’m not surprised though.

              What was the exact date by which something should have been done to stop the virus getting into the country?

              What was the date by which proper border testing and isolation/quarantine should have been established?

            • Gezza

               /  30th June 2020

              I’ll leave those questions for Kitty to answer tomorrow if she wants to. I was just explaining to Kitty how you came to get wrong end of the stick in thinking she was saying we should all have been locked down right from the start.

              She has consistently stated her view, for months now, that we did not all need to be locked down. Not a position I agree with. Me, I’m just pointing out to Kitty that you didn’t lie and twist her words on THAT issue, as she complains. You misinterpreted her meaning.

        • Blazer

           /  1st July 2020

          Muller needed a stretcher after engaging about opening borders with the P.M

          https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20200630_20200630_04/tab/video

          Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  3rd July 2020

      Accept all boarders from Queensland only!!!

      Oh yeah, that’s what we need! Travel & Sightseeing Addicted Tourists who are racists as well!

      Folks … whole industries come and go, ya know. Aeroplanes … They’re only 115 years old.

      The entire horse-drawn era came and went … We adapted … Racing and Equestrian … and Pony Club … Tourizm can do the same.

      Firstly, make counseling readily and easily and expensively available for Travel & Sightseeing Addicts. These people wreck cultures … Cultures flatten inversely to their ‘fattening’ …

      Similar focus on the treatment of Alcoholism and NotFood addiction, the major fuellers of Tourism aside from Fossil-Fuels. You can get inebriated and consume “international flavas” junk food anywhere nowadays … and after a certain level of intoxication it doesn’t matter anyway.

      Pour a lot of resources into curbing human trafficking … This will help ease the demand by not relieve the tension, bringing Bang-kok sex addicts to their crisis-point knees …

      Remember, our lives are all based on Dominant-Culture Narrative or HollyWorld Story structure – Conflict, Crisis, Change … and in-between Crisis and Change … Catharsis.

      Karanga te whenua aroha : Cry the beloved country!

      Ψ PartisaNZ Ψ

      Reply
  3. David

     /  30th June 2020

    I dont see any appetite to open up anytime in the next 6 months. Why would we until there is either a vaccine or the virus mutates or the continued improvements in treatments keep bending that mortality curve downwards.
    I predict we will be open by Christmas with a vaccine and a mortality rate under .3%.
    We should follow the US, the UK and Brazils move by tipping money into the Oxford University vaccine and make sure we get a supply.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th June 2020

      Don’t know how accurate your prediction will turn out David,but a good commonsense opinion all the same.

      They are hard to find on the right.

      Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  30th June 2020

      I predict a partial reopening by Christmas without a vaccine and a mortality rate that rivals countries that have already suffered the effect of widespread exposure

      Reply
    • David, to me it makes sense for everyone to pool the investments & brains for a vaccine rather than having ? places doing a bit.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  30th June 2020

        From an item on 1News last week I gather there are different medico-scientific routes to the making of a vaccine, & they have differing implications for ease, thus price, of scaling up production.

        Reply
        • Well, whatever works best is, er, best. But it seemed to make sense to have it in one place rather than all over the world.

          Bags I do the delivery to Oxford and have to stay there. I love Oxford, sigh….

          Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  30th June 2020

          Predictions on a vaccine are all over the spectrum G. Like climate change you just pick the one that fits your own views and prejudices. Although I would stay away from anything masquerading as news. What I can tell you is the fastest vaccine ever produced took 5 years. For other notable viri like SARS and HIV they have basically given up

          My view is that we are ultimately going to experience what much of the rest of the world has already gone through. Why would it be otherwise? Let’s revisit this when the borders reopen. Meantime if you find yourself in a crowded hospital ward with someone trying to shove a hose down your throat, fight like hell to escape. Cheers,c

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  3rd July 2020

            Five years should be long enough!

            That should allow time to re-invent Egonomics as Ethiconomics … and be well on the way to elevating (so-called) “Democracy” to Epidemocracy – a Constitutional system “above” democracy.

            A much more self-sufficient and ‘Localism’ economy – though not the way LGNZ and NZ Initiative envisage it … ie by their appropriation …

            Four Wellbeings Ethical Economy – with marketplaces of course, they being natural and ethical – aka FWEE Markets …

            Ψ PartisaNZ Ψ – Mark my words …

            [NOTE: I’ve started my morning checking through your words and deleting inappropriate name calling etc – you should be well aware of standards required here, use correct names for politicians and parties. PG]

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  3rd July 2020

              Stick to the Dominant-Culture Narrative script you mean Pete …?

            • No, stick to a decent standard of comment and debate. It not only stops things deteriorating into a shitty mess, it makes for better arguments that are more likely to be taken notice of.

              I don’t stop you commenting about what you want, I just ask for certain standards for your scripts.

  4. Duker

     /  30th June 2020

    “So Australians and New Zealanders will be able to travel to Europe but we can’t travel to Australia.”
    Thats misleading . Our restrictions are on Australians ( and those without NZ passports) coming here
    The Australians are also restricting NZers arriving there ( without Australian passports)

    NZers can go anywhere they like as long as that country will accept them ( sometimes with quarantine)
    Say you had a British passport with NZ residency you could travel to UK/Europe without quarantine but would have quarantine when you came back ( and should have pay for )

    Reply
  5. NOEL

     /  30th June 2020

    Covid community cases in Melbourne suburbs with low measles vaccine uptake.
    Add the current myth that saliva swabs in mine or my child’s mouth will cause pain and they are only 87 percent accurate not surprising.

    Reply
    • I have heard that (a) the nose test is extremely painful (b) it is just uncomfortable.

      But it would be worth it.

      If a mouth swab was painful, and I don’t see how it could be, it would only be for a second.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  30th June 2020

        KITTY I HAVE HAD THE COVID-19 test,i survived,no pain AND I DID MY BIT FOR NZ, the right whine about their rights,ONLY THEIR RIGHTS…not the communities,OR NZs, selfish bastards

        Reply
        • There seems little point in being tested if there’s no chance that you have it as there has been none in the area and you have had no contact with anyone likely to have it.

          Reply
      • Four people seem to think that testing isn’t worth doing. No wonder the virus has spread with idiots like that around.

        I haven’t been tested because I live where there have been no cases and a test would be wasted. Had I been likely to have been in contact with Covid, I would have been tested, but why be tested for the sake of it ? It’s a test gone that could have been used on someone who needed it. It wouldn’t be doing my bit for NZ to hog a test for no reason and deprive someone else of it.

        Reply
  6. duperez

     /  30th June 2020

    The people who have to make the decisions are going to get it right or wrong. They have to be congratulated or condemned. They could play it like a game of table tennis I suppose, be on one end of the table and at the next stroke be on the other, then, back, then ping then pong …

    And as there is distance in the ends of the table and the need for on call subtle, deft or smash from the players, the tolerance levels of the crowd differ dramatically. The accepting, nodding ones let them get on with it. The stroppy, clamorous set the mood and tone.

    A few prominent opinion givers with unchallenged power can dictate the experience for the accepting, nodding ones.

    Having those dictating the experience being erudite, rational and objective would be quite good. The contributions of one of the prominent opinion givers:

    https://thestandard.org.nz/the-many-and-varied-covid-reckons-of-mike-hosking/

    Reply
  7. Patzcuaro

     /  30th June 2020

    It is easy in opposition to say what you think should be done because you won’t have to wear the consequences on implementing it.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  30th June 2020

      Exactly. And you have to work thru & with the same people in the same departments to manage it. There’s been nothing yet to suggest National would have done any better.

      Reply
    • Opposition – the word’s a pretty good clue. It throws a bit of a dampener on broad support for initiatives and bipartisan accords.

      Reply
      • The Opposition has to be called something. It’s been called that for a very long time and simply means the party that happens not to be in at the moment in that context.

        As I remember, National was calling for border tests and isolation from the beginning. If it works now, in spite of the idiocy and incompetence, it would have worked then and the country would not have had to go into the draconian lockdown.

        I am inclined to agree that it’s good luck rather than good management that we have escaped so lightly. It’s to no one’s credit that so many of the people with it here are in the age group least likely to die.

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  30th June 2020

          I think it is more than just luck, the government went relatively early and hard. Every week you delay at the beginning means exponentially more cases and longer in lockdown to bring it under control. You only have to look at the US to see what happens if you go late. Plus we have a hard border.
          The only improvement would have been to block NZers coming home a number of which brought the virus back. I doubt we had the capacity to do quarantine back then.

          Reply
          • They would have been going to live or stay somewhere; they could have been quarantined wherever that was. I’d rather spend a fortnight cooped up at home than in a hotel room. The same checks as are done for HD could have been done. Who arrives in a country with nowhere to stay ?

            Comparisons with the US are specious; they have land borders and a population many times bigger than ours.

            We don’t have a hard border; there are only a few international airports or places where cruise ships land.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  30th June 2020

              US land borders ? Only Canada and Mexico. and Canada has stricter rules banning non essential travel from US
              Most people arrive by plane from Virus hotspots including direct flights from Wuhan

            • Duker

               /  30th June 2020

              Good news Kitty , you can hang up the doom and gloom shawl and break out the bubbly
              “Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the economy is bouncing back quicker than expected from coronavirus lockdowns and the Government now intended to “respond as necessary” to developments.

              “We have seen from ‘real-time’ data such as heavy and light vehicle movements, retail card sales and electricity demand that we are returning to pre-Covid levels in most of those areas,” Robertson told a webinar hosted by Bloomberg.”
              https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/121983515/finance-minister-grant-robertson-in-no-rush-to-commit-unspent-covid-funds

              lets keep it that way with closed borders and those wanting holiday in warmer climes told to do so at home

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th June 2020

              Obviously Robinson is running an election not a university, a dairy farm or a tourist business.

            • Gezza

               /  30th June 2020

              Robinson?

            • Duker

               /  30th June 2020

              Most of those areas !
              Locals travelling at home is the focus now

        • duperez

           /  30th June 2020

          “I am inclined to agree that it’s good luck rather than good management that we have escaped so lightly.”

          Since it was new territory a lot was done which was thought to be best and hoped to be best. Decisions were based on expertise and expectations. By and large things worked out from those decisions. Is that good luck? A pass mark with the proviso about good luck rather than good management is churlish.

          If thousands had died it would have been down to ‘bad luck?’ If exactly the same
          circumstances prevailed today with Simon Bridges having been at the helm with his government over the duration, I wonder how many of today’s knockers would be hailing a triumph.

          I expect there are some who’d happily suffer woe and misery (on others) to have backlash and condemnation to pour on Ardern and her government.

          Reply
  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th June 2020

    Lufthansa is going with pre-flight virus fast testing. First to do the obvious.

    Reply

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