‘Right now is not the right time.”
That’s how the Prime Minister has responded to a paper released this morning highlighting the negative economic and social impacts border closures are having on New Zealand.
Released by former chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe, the trio have encouraged a new approach to border control amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
But, in response to the paper, Jacinda Ardern has today shut down any ideas of a change.
She told media that everyone wants the borders opened, but now is not the time.
“Right now as this pandemic is surging and while the technology and testing is as limited as it is, now is not the right time."
Ms Ardern pointed to the various advantages and disadvantages of the closures.
She said New Zealand has a "unique opportunity" because Covid-19 isn't within the community, that it hasn't had the economic impacts right now of things like social distancing and not being able to have bars and restaurants open.
"The disadvantage is border controls...Will they be here with us forever? Well actually, when we have development of vaccines, treatment, reliable quick-turnaround testing, all of that will change the future scenario for our borders."
The paper suggests New Zealand should change its view of what "success" looks like when it comes to containing Covid-19, such as moving away from the "stamp it out" strategy of keeping New Zealand entirely virus-free.
National has been pushing for the borders to be reopened for some time, with the party's leader Todd Muller saying the border being completely closed for 12 to 18 months is "simply untenable".