The first phase of a one-way neutrality trip with Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will begin in October, first for RSE workers in those countries, CV-19 Response Minister Chris Hippkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.
“We want to reassure RSE workers that we are moving forward with a safe quarantine free movement for the horticulture industry,” said Damien O’Connor.
We must take a cautious approach to opening a neutral-free trip with the Pacific. Although Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu have no covide-19 community issues, we know how fast it will spread if Delta enters, ”said Chris Hippkins.
“We will put more health measures in place for these workers to reduce the risk. To get at least one dose of this vaccine, complete isolation at the time of arrival and return negative COVID-19 tests on days 0 and 5.
We only start with RSE staff for a number of reasons. RSE workers come to New Zealand in a group and stay in an employer-run accommodation. This helps to reduce any risk of COVID-19 by ensuring that they are isolated in an organized area as soon as they arrive.
Damien O’Connor said the RSE program reflects the benefits to New Zealand, Pacific partners, workers and their families and communities.
Up to 14,400 RSE workers routinely come through New Zealand each year, with an estimated 10,500 in the pre-Kovid harvest season.
Plans are afoot to bring these workers to New Zealand’s fruit and vegetable sector and to our partner countries, and some revenue flights have been postponed due to the New Zealand Level 4 alarm in August and September.
“We are closely following the first phase of this one-way quarantine-free journey. While it is safe to do so, it remains to be seen whether to extend the neutrality of these countries and to Tokla to New Zealand. Meanwhile, other people entering these countries from New Zealand must meet MIQ requirements.
We thank Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu for their close cooperation with us in this significant step to reunite our country.
“I would also like to thank the leaders of the horticulture sector for their constructive work in reaching this announcement,” said Damien O’Connor.
Officials in New Zealand are working with partner Pacific countries and industry to finalize the final flight dates in October.