11 Aug 2020

New Zealand not monetising Covid-free status 'a shame' - Paul Henry

5:32 pm on 11 August 2020

Veteran broadcaster Paul Henry is among those calling for New Zealand to cash in on its Covid-free status.

Paul Henry

Paul Henry. Photo: Supplied

From today, New Zealanders returning from abroad for a short trip home will be charged for their isolation stay.

The new regime will apply to Kiwis who go overseas for a holiday or business trip and then return, as well as those already abroad who return for fewer than 90 days.

A single person will be charged $3100 - with each additional adult being charged another $950.

Henry was in New Zealand for the show Rebuilding Paradise, which aired as lockdown ended, before returning to the US in early June to work in Palm Springs.

He has since returned to New Zealand and - because he is already on day four of two weeks in the Sudima Hotel near Auckland airport - is not paying this time around.

Henry said the managed isolation system was a well-oiled machine but it was a shame New Zealand had not been able to take advantage of its Covid-free status.

"The organisation is fabulous, it's just a shame we can't monetise it and by monetise I don't mean: 'it's a shame we don't charge more New Zealanders for coming back to New Zealand'.

"What I mean is it's a shame that we can't actually monetise it.

"It's a shame we can't take advantage of our Covid-free status and sell this opportunity to foreigners, who would queue up to come to New Zealand and pay big money in decent managed isolation for the prospect of months of freedom in New Zealand afterwards. I think it's a crying shame that we haven't found a way to monetise that."

It has been more than 100 days since the last case of community transmission here. Henry said it made sense to take advantage of the New Zealand public health position.

"We knew we were going to be in this situation.

"It seems extraordinary to me. If we don't do it soon, we will no longer be in the favoured situation we are in now, where we are one of the only countries like this. We've created this wonderful product that we're not letting people purchase."

Henry said he travelled during the Covid-19 response for work. He said Palm Springs was "weird".

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