PM avoids addressing risk from ships’ crew

Opposition Leader Judith Collins says the Prime Minister is either confused about the powers of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Order 2020, or is refusing to address a known risk of spreading the virus which the order creates.

“Answering questions in Parliament from me yesterday and today, the Prime Minister repeatedly referred to protocols for overseas crew members on ships moored in New Zealand promptly departing New Zealand when their duties end, which is dealt with in clause 17 in part 3 of the order.

“But that isn’t what National has been asking her about.

“National has specifically been asking her about clause 18 in part 3 of the order, which deals with crew flying in from overseas ports, often to take the place of the departing crew covered in clause 17.

“On the one occasion today she got close to addressing the issue at point, the Prime Minister suggested there was no risk of Covid-19 being spread because those crewmembers flying into New Zealand must go directly from the airport to their ship.

“But she’s wrong. Clause 18 directs incoming crew members to go into managed isolation for a period before being transferred to their ship, often on long road journeys, such as from Auckland to Tauranga.

“But at no point are they required to be tested for Covid-19.

“This creates the potential for those crew, who may arrive with Covid-19 and be asymptomatic, to infect fellow crew members on their ships, and for those crew members to then infect New Zealand border-facing workers who need to board vessels as they move around the country’s ports.

“It’s no wonder Covid-19 crossed the border given the gaping holes the Government’s regime has allowed to remain open.”