Quarantine-free travel for Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu RSE workers

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu who come to New Zealand will be able to enter New Zealand without going through MIQ, in a bid to ease some of the demand for seasonal workers. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision made by Cabinet to work towards the one-way quarantine-free travel was an effort to assist industries hit hard by worker shortages due to Covid-19. 

"We know our agriculture sector is experiencing challenges," she said. "We're working towards this opening up in September."

Ardern said this could significantly expand the workforce for those experiencing shortages and also free up MIQ spaces. 

Tonga has had no Covid-19 cases, Samoa had one and Vanuatu had four at the border. 

The workers would still need to go through quarantine on the way home, as it is their own country's policy.

There are currently 150 MIQ spaces set aside for employees in the  Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is currently in discussions with the Governments of those countries.

The scheme brings in workers from eligible Pacific Island countries in horticulture and viticulture industries where there was not enough workers from New Zealand.

ACT's immigration spokesperson James McDowall asked why the decision to allow RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu to come through without completing MIQ had taken "so long".

"A Government of 'kindness' should have acted before now," McDowall said.