13 Aug 2021

Border reopening plan 'will give exporters confidence' - NZ Winegrowers

7:32 am on 13 August 2021

Business leaders are praising the government's new pilot scheme which will allow vaccinated travelling workers to isolate at home.

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Photo: 123RF

Companies and other organisations wanting to send staff overseas will soon be invited to put people up for selection.

The prime minister said the trial will be very limited, with strict conditions and monitoring.

The companies involved will be publicly named and the travel must be essential to maintaining their business.

Health officials will choose the successful candidates who will submit a detailed plan of how they intend to keep Covid-19 out of the community.

It is all part of the government's road map to relaxing border restrictions by the first quarter of next year.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope thinks many will jump at the chance.

"There's a reasonably strong level of demand from exporters to get into their export markets. The challenge has been for them to get MIQ spots on their return, so we know that there will be a lot of interest from business who need to get into markets in order to service customers, to understand where they're at, and to look at what their future growth prospects are," he said.

While the details of the pilot remain a little thin, Hope said whatever the rules are, they will be followed closely.

"Business people are highly incentivised to comply with the rules. If they're going out of the country and they are able to get back with much lower quarantine requirements, they're going to be pretty happy about that, so that's a significant incentive to comply," he said.

Business NZ CEO Kirk Hope

Kirk Hope says providing business people with lower quarantine requirements will be a significant incentive for them to obey the rules. Photo: RNZ/ Dan Cook

The government's much awaited roadmap is a cautious one.

From early next year there will be three pathways.

Unvaccinated travellers and those from high-risk countries will spend 14 days in managed isolation while those from low-risk areas who are vaccinated skip quarantine altogether.

The pilot focuses on the third option - vaccinated travellers who have been to medium risk countries who could either have a shorter stay in MIQ or isolate at home.

It is still not clear what qualifies as medium risk and Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said he is eagerly awaiting more information.

"There's still quite a lot of detail that we need to see, and businesses are going to need to put a specific plan together to help manage that isolation process for when the people get back, but I think businesses will be keen to be looking at it. It is important that business people can travel overseas for specific purposes," he said.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan is also in support of the plan.

"I think what the government has done around taking a risk-based approach to this is very important and I think it is a significant step forward. It will give exporters confidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of more open borders," he said.

Gregan said it has been difficult for many wine growers to put face-to-face meetings on the back burner.

"I think it's been particularly hard for our small and medium sized businesses. Many of our large wineries will have people based overseas, so that's meant they've been able to maintain contact in market.

"For our small and medium sized producers, they don't have people based overseas and there are limits as to how far you can take all those Zoom meetings. Sometimes you do have to get face-to-face it. There's nothing like that personal connection," he said.

The pilot will run from October to December.

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