Coronavirus: David Seymour calls for privately-run managed isolation and quarantine facilities for vaccinated travellers

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

Privately-run isolation facilities for fully vaccinated travellers will boost business and help New Zealand reconnect with the rest of the world, according to the ACT party.

It's newly-released policy would allow hotels to apply for a MIQ operating licence, according to what it describes as strict criteria. 

At the moment, spots in government contracted facilities are snapped up within minutes and it's a lottery of pressing the refresh button, with some people paying freelancers to do the job for them. 

ACT leader David Seymour told Checkpoint that a condition of approval for a licence to operate MIQ would be that everyone on site is fully vaccinated.

"Don't care if you're an employee, who you work for, if you're a guest, you gotta be double vaccinated, you've got to be able to prove that. The government can't guarantee that with current MIQ."

Additionally, Seymour said, everyone on site would need to have a saliva test every two days.

"That's what you'd have to do in order to keep your licence. Hotels that take this on will not want to lose their licence because they've invested in getting into this business.

"We think if the government's not prepared to take on an initiative like this, then when exactly do we start to take steps back to normality."

Seymour said the world had moved on since the government rejected the idea for private MIQ a year ago.

"Vaccination has separated the virus from the effects of the disease, saliva testing is now accepted to be as accurate as nasopharyngeal, if we don't adapt to these changes, we end up like Sydney where, all of a sudden, people just can't take it anymore and things boil over."

Under the proposal, people would initially have to isolate for two weeks but, if further data showed it wasn't necessary, they'd consider a shorter period of isolation.

"That's an iterative process where we continue to learn and be informed by good data. At the moment, we're not making any steps at all, we're just asking to take the first step - 14 days - but delivered privately with high status of vaccination."

Seymour said there wouldn't be a fixed or subsidised price, it would be determined by hotel owners and the market.

"These are commercial factors, these are things that businesses do well. They anticipate demand and they scale up and scale down. Government doesn't do so well at that for a variety of reasons.

"If we want to solve lumpy demand, then private sector participation is going to be a better way to do that because private sector entities are, generally, better at anticipating price and demand than government is."