February could be final month for MIQ, NZTE letter appears to hint

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is working on the assumption that MIQ will still be in place for international arrivals until the end of February, but not necessarily beyond, a letter to exporters shows.

The government agency has written to exporters inviting them to apply for 25 slots in MIQ that it has reserved for them in January and said it expected to open applications soon for at least another 25 slots in February.

But the letter suggested its ‘Exporter MIQ Allocation’ might not be required beyond the end of February.

“The Government is currently considering whether to extend the scheme into March and beyond,” it said.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which supervises the MIQ system, said decisions around MIQ were for Cabinet to make.

NZTE’s Exporters MIQ Allocation scheme provides MIQ slots to exporters to allow them to send people overseas to conduct business in the knowledge that their representatives can be sure of getting back into the country through MIQ on their return.

Its invitations went out amid calls from some business groups and public health experts for MIQ to be scrapped imminently, given that Covid is already circulating in the community.

Grounded Kiwis, an organisation representing New Zealanders stuck overseas, has called for the Government to scrap MIQ in favour of allowing returnees to self-isolate at home.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday there would not be any further revisions to MIQ requirements until “the first quarter” of next year, describing such revisions as a big step.

The scheme was tweeked with effect from last Sunday, when the requirement for arrivals to stay in MIQ reduced from 14 days to seven days.

November 19, 2021

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