26 Oct 2021

Grounded Kiwis pitches self isolation system for returnees

From Checkpoint, 5:35 pm on 26 October 2021

A group of New Zealanders stuck overseas have proposed a self-isolation system for returnees, which would see more people get home and reduce the cost for the government.

Grounded Kiwis plan would take into account the vaccine status of the people returning and where they've come from as well as the vaccine rates in New Zealand.

Grounded Kiwis spokesperson Martin Newell told Checkpoint the proposal was split into two phases.

"They're linked to vaccination levels in New Zealand, which is the key metric to keeping New Zealand safe, and it also applies a risk profile to all returnees.

"So you could be coming from a low, medium or high risk country."

He said phase one, which included fully vaccinated returnees from low risk locations, could be implemented immediately.

"For example, [returnees from] a country like Singapore will be allowed to isolate for five days at home and would have to complete the predeparture test, a test on arrival, and a test on day four before they will be able to be released.

"Fully vaccinated returnees from medium risk locations will isolate for 10 days with regular testing.

"And high risk returnees would go into a mandatory 14-day MIQ isolation."

Once New Zealand reached 80 percent of the 12 plus population being fully vaccinated, the second phase of the proposed system would come into effect, he said.

And self-isolation would not be required for low risk returnees, provided they had a negative pre departure test and on arrival test.

"Self-isolation will be available for all other returnees depending on their risk level but that would depend on how long the period of isolation would be."

He said for people isolating at home with others living there, the entire household would need to become one bubble and isolate together.

"So you need to stay on the property. You're not allowed to go out to get essential services. You'd have to only do deliveries and click and collect and contactless only."

If the property could accommodate a separate isolation space, then the person isolating would not be allowed to meet with others in the household, Newell said.

In phase one, he explained self-isolation would only be allowed at a distance of 150km by road from either Auckland or Christchurch airports.

He said returnees could opt to rent an Airbnb or other standalone accommodation.

It would be enforced by the Ministry of Health.

"There will be some form of a digital tracker."