Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: One-way bubble with Pacific for RSE workers to open in October

By Thomas Coughlan

A one-way travel bubble with the Pacific for some workers will open in October, the Government has announced.

It will mean Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will be able to come to New Zealand without having to go through MIQ.

The bubble will still have some conditions.

RSE workers will have to have received their first vaccination before departure. They will also need to undertake testing on day 0 and day 5 of their arrival in the country.

RSE workers will also have to isolate for seven days on arrival, but this does not need to be done at an MIQ facility.

"We want to provide certainty to the horticulture industry that we are moving forward with safe quarantine-free travel for RSE workers in time for the upcoming picking season," Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said

Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was taking a "cautious approach" to reopening the border to foreign workers.

"We need to take a cautious approach to opening up quarantine-free travel with the Pacific. While Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu haven't had any community cases of Covid-19 we know first-hand how quickly Delta can spread if it gets in," Hipkins said.

Hipkins said the Government was starting with RSE workers because, "RSE workers come to New Zealand in a cohort, and stay in employer-arranged accommodation.

"This helps mitigate any additional risk from Covid-19 by ensuring they go into self-isolation in a pre-organised place immediately upon arrival," he said.

The horticulture sector has been calling for exemptions to harsh border rules for RSE workers, warning that if they were not allowed into the country, crops would rot on the vine.

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