COVID-19: Many countries are ditching household contact isolation, so should New Zealand follow suit?

The hospitality sector says the seven-day isolation period for household contacts is outdated and unnecessary as we learn to live with COVID-19 in the country.

Many other countries have now thrown that isolation requirement out and people Newshub have spoken to here are starting to ignore the rules.

Tens of thousands of healthy Kiwis without COVID are currently at home isolating.

"We really need to look at this self-isolation and we need to look at it really quickly because we are in critical need of staff," Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White said.

Businesses around the country have been forced to close their doors due only to a lack of staff available.

"It's so bad for some operators they've had to close their businesses, not for just one day, but some have had to for five days," White said.

The hospitality sector is one of many hit hard by the rules.

"As we have announced an earlier border opening, maybe it's time to recalibrate and have a look at our health settings, I think we have enough RAT tests in the country that we could operate safely by having our staff test before they come to work," White said.

Just like essential workers can do now.

People Newshub spoke to not only think household contacts shouldn't isolate - they also know of people who are now ignoring the rules.

"This is just crazy, it just goes on and on, I'm just over it," one person said.

"It just seems like it's everywhere," another said.

"Yes I do [know of people breaking the rules], quite a few actually," a person said.

We spoke with the owner of a building firm snowed under with work who when his son had COVID still went to work every morning after a negative RAT test. 

He is also allowing his staff to come in and work when they are household contacts because he says they can isolate on a building site while getting their work done, rather than sitting at home doing nothing.

Many countries including the UK, Australia and Canada have now ditched the household contact isolation rules only requiring active cases to isolate.

"Those countries that have scrapped it have often seen a significant rise in case numbers as they've changed up their home isolation requirements and we're on the downward trajectory at the moment," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

But that's not entirely correct, the UK has shown no evidence of a spike - and recent adopters New South Wales have also avoided a surge in cases.

"We should stand it down, like the rest of the world," White said.

Changes the Prime Minister could ponder as she sits at home as a household contact herself.