National, ACT compare Government to Grinch over border timeline

ACT and the National Party are comparing the Government to the Grinch that stole Christmas, after the latest MIQ and border shake up announcement.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced a raft of incoming changes, which include a seven-day home isolation stay for Kiwis travelling from Australia from January 17, and for most other countries from February 14.

National leader Judith Collins and the party’s spokesperson for Covid-19 Chris Bishop both said Christmas has been ruined for many families and that MIQ should end now.

Collins came out swinging shortly after the announcement Wednesday.

Jacinda Ardern. David Seymour.

“Jacinda Ardern is the Grinch who has stole Christmas for many Kiwi families. A whole lot of families are going to have a lot of empty chairs this Christmas,” the National leader said.

“It is an absolute disgrace and I can’t understand why she can’t just make a decision."

In response to being called a Grinch, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government has a responsibility "to make sure that New Zealanders have the Christmas they deserve".

"That does mean that we will act very cautiously as we move to reopen New Zealand and make changes at the international border.

She said there was "significant risk" with international returnees if there were no border protocols in place.

"Keep in mind in the past all of our returnees have been coming to Auckland, with the changes that we will be making they will be returning to all parts of New Zealand so we have a duty to make sure that we do that very carefully, and that we reduce cases."

Bishop called the Government’s announcement a “timetable” that was “truly pathetic”.

“What is the rationale for partly reopening the border to New Zealanders in Australia only in January 2022? Why can’t it be done now?

He called MIQ "morally repugnant", adding it was "time the Government reopened Fortress New Zealand to the world".

ACT Party leader David Seymour said the Government was not ready to open the border now.

“Labour needs to stop milking gratitude for giving citizens any freedom at all and start explaining why restrictions are justified. It has the relationship between citizens and Government back to front, and it’s covering the fact the Government’s systems aren’t ready.

He said there was no longer any “logic” to restricting the freedoms of New Zealanders, or other citizens, to entering the country.

“Aucklanders will be able to move around New Zealand from December 15, but not foreigners who are less of a risk. There is no longer any logic in restricting New Zealanders’, or other citizens’, freedoms to enter the country."

Hipkins said it was understandable some wanted the Government to open before Christmas, while others wanted more caution.

"We acknowledge it’s been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” Hipkins said.

“There continues to be a global pandemic with cases surging in Europe and other parts of the world, so we do need to be very careful when reopening the border."

Hipkins described the staged approach as a "clear, simple and safe plan".

"We always said we’d open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days.

"Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand," he said.

Fully vaccinated NZ citizens, residence-class visa holders and some other travellers will be eligible under current settings to travel from Australia to New Zealand without going through MIQ, using a seven day home isolation period.

From February 14, fully vaccinated NZ citizens, residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under current border settings can visit from other countries, except those considered 'very high risk', and go through the home isolation requirement. From April New Zealand is set to open back up to international visitors, which will be done in stages.