22 Nov 2021

Details of 'progressive' MIQ phase out in two weeks - Covid-19 Response Minister

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 22 November 2021

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There will be "a lot more movement" between Australia and New Zealand in the first quarter of 2022, with the government planning to announce changes to MIQ in the next two weeks, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. 

Hipkins told Checkpoint the government was awaiting some public health advice, and expects to make an announcement on the future of MIQ in the next two weeks. 

The removal of MIQ restrictions was "likely to be a progressive exercise," he said. 

A date for the beginning of that removal of restrictions will be announced shortly, he said.

However, the trans-Tasman bubble was "unlikely" to be relaunched this year.

"In the first quarter of next year the restrictions at the border are going to be very different to the way they are now. It doesn't mean the trans-Tasman bubble will look exactly the same, but I think you'll see a lot more movement between New Zealand and Australia in the first quarter of next year," Hipkins said.

There will also be more MIQ lobby releases before Christmas, and Hipkins believed December dates will be in that release.

How Auckland can move to 'orange' 

Hipkins told Checkpoint for Auckland to get to orange in the Covid-19 Protection Framework, the government will be considering case numbers, rate of hospitalisation, contact tracing capability, and the nature of communities the cases are in. More details will be revealed next week, he said.

"At this point, when we move to red it opens things up quite substantially in Auckland, and we do have to be aware that with that opening up comes additional risk. So we need to see what that does in terms of transmission and so on.

"What we don't want to do is get to the point where we move too fast and end up with an outbreak that we then couldn't get back under control."

Cases were at a "manageable level", and needed to stay that way, he said. 

Hipkins said it is likely certain areas outside Auckland will be moving into the protection framework at red, but did not detail which or how many.

Framework settings will be reviewed fortnightly initially, then monthly. 

"We want the traffic light framework to be a bit more predictable, so there won't be sudden shifts up and down as there are with the alert levels. It will be a bit more predictable, people will get a bit more notice, because... there will be different factors that we're considering."

Asked if it was possible for Auckland to get to 'green', Hipkins said that was the aim, for life to get back to as normal as possible. But that transition needed to be done in a "sensible way".