If entry into New Zealand from abroad is safe, it should be allowed. People arriving from places that are Covid-free, or no more risky than New Zealand, and who get here on flights that do not intersect with risky places, should return to normal travel arrangements. Currently, the Cook Islands, the rest of New Zealand's Pacific Island realm, and Taiwan would fit the bill - along possibly with Vietnam, if the epidemiologists figure that's safe. Similarly, any Australian states that get things reliably under control and maintain adequate border measures against the states that haven't, could be invited into our Pacific 'bubble'. Entry from other places needs to be made safe. And New Zealand needs to scale up its managed isolation system so that more people can join us - both Kiwis abroad
Eric Crampton considers the following as important: pandemic
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- Arrivals from safe places of safe people (those who have not recently travelled outside of those safe places), on flights that do not involve transit or connections through unsafe places, should be allowed without requiring stays in managed isolation. Determining which places are safe or not should be left to the epidemiologists.
- Those arriving from risky places should be required to present their booking in a managed isolation facility before boarding a flight to get here. Making those arriving responsible for making their own bookings gives them some control over the times of their arrival and takes some of that burden off of the government.
- The government should start training up staff necessary to the scaling up of managed isolation.
- Rather than the government contracting out facilities for use as managed isolation facilities, those facilities should instead contract with the government to provide services - and charged at cost. Facilities would be free to set their own prices for stays in isolation. If prices in managed isolation started looking high during some times of year, other hotels or resorts or campgrounds might flip into becoming managed isolation providers - contracting with the government for the necessary health and other staff.
- Rather than the government charging a fee to some returning Kiwis for their stays in managed isolation, it could instead provide a voucher equivalent to the cost of a stay in a basic facility to those Kiwis whose stays the government would want to subsidise. I have a lot of sympathy for the #TeamOfSixMillion folks who want no charges for any returning Kiwis, but I worry that that way of doing things very quickly gets you into implicit rationing because of the cost to the state and voter distaste of shelling out a lot of money for the visits of Kiwis who have lived abroad for decades. The most likely outcome in that case is that the government makes a big deal about not charging because it would be unkind, but would just not do much to increase capacity and ignore the costs it imposes by lack of access. In any case, my ethics about who should get vouchers and who shouldn't are no better than anyone else's. I just think this mechanism makes it a lot easier to scale things up. Eligible Kiwis could apply the value of their vouchers to the full cost of a stay at a basic facility during non-peak times, or as partial payment for a stay at a nicer facility or for a stay during peak times. All of that helps encourage more hotels, motels, resorts and other places flip into becoming managed isolation facilities.