COVID-19: Export business boss questions what's 'taken so long' to get self-isolation trial in New Zealand

The future of touching back down in Aotearoa is on the horizon with a home self-isolation arrival trial launching next month.

It'll be open to 150 fully-vaccinated Kiwis needing to travel overseas for work if they can prove they have a COVID-safe home isolation plan.

Hamilton start-up Manta5 is tired of our shut borders. In July they gave up on waiting and sent four double-vaxxed staff off to Europe without the promise of return. 

"The standing joke up in Europe is 'oh you're from New Zealand, you're the guys who have to go to jail when you go home and you've got to pay for it'," says chief executive Mark Robotham. 

"For us as a small export business that employs people, we want to grow and pay more tax. We live in the global economy so we've got to exist in the global economy.

"I just can't understand why it's taken them so long."

New Zealand is set to trial opening a sliver to that global economy next month with a self-isolation pilot. 

"While this is a pilot, it gives you a sense of where we intend to go on our borders with a wider range of options for safe return to help ease pressure on our MIQ system in the future," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. 

Expressions of interest for the trial open on Thursday for 150 people needing to travel overseas for work. They must be fully vaccinated and arrive back in New Zealand between October 30 and December 8.

They will have to isolate alone, somewhere with cell phone reception, and without shared ventilation.

"The only reason that we are running this self-isolation pilot now is in preparation for a highly vaccinated population," Ardern said. 

Self isolation won't look like this forever. The Prime Minister doesn't anticipate everyone needing to self-isolate for the full 14 days depending on where they've come from and if they're vaccinated - she says this should help with MIQ bottlenecks.