29 Sep 2021

Chris Bishop outlines National's reopening plan

From Checkpoint, 5:22 pm on 29 September 2021

National's Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says the party's border plan aims to keep Covid-19 at a low level that does not impact unduly on the public health system, while restrictions ease.

National today unveiled the party's plan to first end lockdowns then reopen to the world based on two vaccination targets.

Vaccinated returnees from low-risk areas would need Covid-19 tests pre-departure and arrival - and if all clear would be free to enter Aotearoa without having to isolate.

There would be seven days isolation at home for those coming from medium risk locations.

Those travelling from red zones would still head to managed isolation for 14 days.

Bishop told Checkpoint in that scenario about 50 cases a day would be a low level.

"It's literally impossible to building a model that builds in all the variables," he said.

"The take-home point is that vaccination is the key."

He said under National's plan Queensland could soon be a candidate with an 80 percent vaccination rate and very low levels of Covid-19.

"We would say at that point that double vaccinated Kiwi travellers can jump on a plane with a pre-departure test and a test on arrival here in New Zealand as well and as long as they both cleared negative they could come into the community."

He said the UK or the US would be examples of medium risk places since Covid was manageable but was in the community - but ultimately which places were medium level would be determined by public health experts.

Bishop said he accepted that opening the borders meant there would be a "low level" of spread in the community, but it was already in the community with 45 community cases reported today.

He said National's plan also outlined a 10 point plan to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in the community which included things such as contact tracing, saliva testing and purpose-built quarantine facilities.

Bishop said it was possible to cope with Covid-19 in the community when there were about 50 cases or slightly more a day.

He said that was so long as contract tracing was done for those found to have Covid-19 and that they are isolated.

Regarding Covid-19 modelling from Te Pūnaha Matatini, Bishop said Shaun Hendy's modelling did not include ubiquitous rapid antigen tests, saliva testing, a supercharged vaccination plan and Covid-19 treatments that were not in New Zealand.

"Some of the things we're proposing are in the Hendy model, but a lot are not."

Bishop acknowledged that some Covid-19 cases would end up in hospital but said they had a plan to boost the numbers of ICU nurses and doctors through the immigration system.

Bishop said National's plan was comprehensive and well-thought-out.