Live: Collins sets out plan for reopening border

National Party leader Judith Collins. Photo: Dom Thomas.

The National Party is calling for New Zealand to first end lockdowns then reopen to the world based on two vaccination targets.

The party's plan, which it says has been thoroughly vetted by experts, includes three "pillars".

The first pillar includes 10 actions for boosting New Zealand's response, the second is a 70-75 percent vaccination target for ending lockdowns and the third is an 85-90 per cent target for reopening to the world.

The strategy aims for "vigorous suppression" of Covid-19, while accepting that elimination of the Delta variant and other strains like it may not be possible.

Announcing the plan this morning, National leader Judith Collins says the government's Covid-19 strategy has been largely successful, but it has taken its eye off the ball this year.

"The government has no real plan beyond a belated admission that vaccination is important. The prime minister says there is no vaccine target while ministers throw around numbers willy-nilly ... the prime minister also says her 'reconnection' ideas are still government policy while her Covid-19 minister says they are being reconsidered."

She says the planned trial of at-home isolation is not a plan, "it's an insult, Kiwis have done the hard yards".

"Delta is here, it may not be possible to eliminate it, and it would almost inevitably arrive into the community again. Whatever happens, we need to reopen to the world and National's plan outlines how we can do that."

National's Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says the third pillar in the plan of reopening would reunite families and allow New Zealanders to travel overseas, boost tourism and international education, and "end the depressing and outrageous human lottery that is the MIQ debacle".

"Alongside the public health measures outlined in our plan, a milestone of 85 per cent means we can manage Covid-19 coming through the border," he says.

It would involve a traffic-light risk-based border system that would prioritise isolation-free travel for fully vaccinated travellers - a similar model to what the government has proposed - but the border would reopen once New Zealand reached 85 per cent vaccination of 12+ age groups.

"The low-risk (green) pathway is for travel from jurisdictions where there is either no or little cases of Covid-19, and where vaccination rates are above 80 per cent ... vaccinated travellers from these jurisdictions would be able to come to New Zealand with a pre-departure test and a rapid and saliva test on arrival at the port of entry," he says.

To achieve this, and the lower target of ending nationwide lockdowns after reaching a 70-75 vaccination, the 10-step first pillar includes several ideas National has repeatedly brought up in criticising the government's approach.

National's 10-steps:

  •   •  1. Supercharge the vaccine rollout

  •   •  2. Order vaccine boosters

  •   •  3. Upgrade our contact tracing capability

  •   •  4. Roll out saliva testing at the border and in the community

  •   •  5. Roll out rapid tests for essential workers and in the community

  •   •  6. Create a dedicated agency, Te Korowai Kōkiri, to manage our Covid-19 response based in Manukau not Wellington

  •   •  7. Build purpose-built quarantine

  •   •  8. Launch a digital app for vaccination authentication

  •   •  9. Invest in next-generation Covid treatments

  •   •  10. Prepare our hospitals and expand ICU capacity

The first and most detailed step would target vaccinations towards South Auckland, Māori, and vulnerable populations, making better use of GPs, pharmacies, door-knocking in high-risk suburbs, and using vaccination in MIQ.

Young people would also be a priority, with school vaccinations and planning ready to go for vaccinating children aged 5-11, aiming for both to be complete by the end of the year.

It would also seek to commission behavioural scientists and economists to come up with incentives to get more people vaccinated.

Daily saliva testing would become mandatory for border workers and quarantine-facility residents, with a provider contracted to also perform the tests on arrivals from low- and medium-risk countries.

Meanwhile, rapid antigen testing would be provided for international arrivals, and rolled out to all essential workers and hospitals, with greater availability for the general public.

It comes a day after the ACT Party released its own plan on reopening the border, urging an end to regional lockdowns, and an overall strategic shift away from public health to wellbeing.

Following his widely discussed opinion piece at the weekend, former Prime Minister Sir John Key told Morning Report on Monday it was not over-the-top to liken New Zealand to North Korea, as he has, the government needed to state definite dates of opening and incentivise vaccinations.


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I would be interested

Posted on 29-09-2021 13:42 | By Merlin

I would be interested in who the experts who vetted the plan are because I saw in the media a modeller said if we open up to the world at presentwe could get about 4314 deaths a large number of Covid cases if Covid took of again what is in their plan to accommodate this??Are they prepared to name those experts please.


Posted on 29-09-2021 11:36 | By kiwi_brat2003

Does this mean that if we open too early and many death’s occur would the national and other cross party’s people take responsibility. DOUBT IT! They have not taken in any when they pressured the Government to reopen to AUSTRALIA. 90% with all population figures 5 year old and above. It shouldn’t be LESS or what we have achieved will be for ZIP!.


Posted on 29-09-2021 11:19 | By

National definitely needs a positive response to the virus to distract attention away from a leadership which is being battered by an inept government. A government that is frightened to make a decision because it will highlight other areas of indecision and a lack of foresight and planning. A government more interested in navel gazing and being kind than caring for the businesses that fund their activities through taxes and employment. We need to open our borders and become engaged with the rest of the world again.


Posted on 29-09-2021 11:17 | By

Has 82% vaccinated and is seeing a spike in cases. However, their health experts are not concerned, even saying it will be beneficial in building some natural immunity. They say over 98% see no or very mild symptoms. Deaths is extremely rare. It is a cold virus after all.

Nobody wants lockdowns.

Posted on 29-09-2021 11:15 | By morepork

This is a sensible plan and should work pretty well. But so is the current plan we are following. Vaccination levels are obviously the key and even many anti-vaxxers are waking up to this and getting the jabs. There ARE things that could have been done better (like earlier purchase of vaccines), but the focus at the time was not on the vaccines and there were no vaccines in the beginning. Making political capital out of 20:20 retrospect is simply a cheap shot and counter-productive. I don’t agree we are a "hermit kingdom" (I would agree that some of Sir John’s very wealthy playmates were unable to visit during the crisis), but, even if we were, some isolation is not going to be bad for us. Our island status is a strength when the world goes crazy. National’s plan is a good one, but so is the Government’s.

John Key is a has-been spoiled brat.

Posted on 29-09-2021 11:04 | By morepork

His privileged life-style has had to be curtailed because of the virus and so he ignores the progress that has been made and likens us to North Korea? The measures that have been taken are showing good results; we have one of the lowest Covid death rates in the world. Sure, there has been some hard work required by everybody, but, instead of trying to politicize what is actually a health problem, it would be far more positive if Sir John had simply voiced his suggestions for making things better and thrown them into the pot without trying to attach political points. At no time during the Pandemic have I felt threatened or intimidated by the Government’s strategy. I have seen no fear mongering and his North Korean analogy is way out of line and actually offensive. We have done what needed to be done. Good for us!