Managed isolation is a greater risk for businesses than Covid-19, according to a leading entrepreneur who has detailed an alternative isolation plan in a bid to get businesses to travel again.
Animation Research CEO Sir Ian Taylor believes companies can be trusted to manage their own strict isolation at home, which in turn frees up places at MIQ for other returning New Zealanders.
Taylor said companies have cut back on overseas trips, but some are essential to keeping the business running and a list of companies has contacted him desperately to be certain how to get their workers home.
He has written a series of open letters to the government in which he presents a step-by-step pilot trip of what would be the guinea pig, but so far he said he has had no real response from the government.
He said that the current management of MIQ is leaving overseas workers of companies in the open air.
“It’s a disaster. I mean, it was badly conceived from day one and now it’s the biggest obstacle for companies.
“In fact, for many people, MIQ has become more dangerous than Covid itself, and what really worries me is that we already know that last week we saw that the waiting room concept was always flawed.”
Last week’s debut of the government’s new MIQ reservation system demonstrated just how problematic MIQ is becoming, Taylor said.
Taylor currently has three overseas employees and said he has no way of getting them back in the country.
“Those three have been absolutely essential for everyone to keep their job here. They all volunteered and have been abroad since Christmas and what we normally do because it’s hard work … they’ll probably work for two months or so, then we”. I would send someone to give them a fifteen-day break. “
However, he said that is simply not possible now due to a lack of available MIQ rooms.
One of his staff has been abroad since December last year, he said.
“One of them who is in the UK called us about two weeks ago and said he had gone to his first restaurant dinner since Christmas, it is very very difficult and we are not asking to occupy MIQ beds … I would hate to do that, there are people even worse than that.
“What we are asking is that the government listen to us and we can show them a way to ease the burden of MIQ and get our people home safely with certainty.”
Taylor said her business has been reduced to only the most essential travel, but that only adds to the burden on her overseas employees.
“We’ve cut our trips abroad since March 14 of last year, we’ve cut it by 80 percent, which is huge, but the 20 percent we need to do is what keeps 80 percent of our business in business. operation and we are not the only ones. “
Although Zoom calls have been vital to business during the pandemic, technology will never completely replace business travel, he said.
“We have the Zoom [it] It has helped us with all this travel reduction and will change business travel forever, but it will not eliminate it.
“At the moment we cannot do business because we simply cannot afford to send someone and not know when they will return.”
Taylor said she has heard last week of several companies with overseas staff that are now stagnant and don’t know when they will return home.
Tayor happy to act as a guinea pig for his proposed system
In his idea of a quarantine-free system for returning commercial workers, Taylor himself would act as a guinea pig and follow a series of Covid-19 restrictions before traveling to Sydney.
“That [Sydney] it’s pretty cool to pick because, you know, we’re relatively Covid-free and it’s running rampant in Sydney so we take it to the extreme.
“Seven days before getting on the plane, I went to level 3, I worked from home, they examined me every day.
“The first day I would have a PCR test, the normal one, and then I would also have this wearable device that was spent $ 18 million on, and it’s right up the street here in Dunedin and they can’t talk to anyone about it. I’d ask for one of those so I can compare my PCR test, which takes 25 minutes. “
Taylor said he would then get another PCR test three days before flying to Auckland, while Auckland Airport said they would meet him in Auckland to make sure he went directly to the Air New Zealand area in a clean and safe manner.
“I would have another test before getting on the plane … a PCR test that takes 25 minutes. I would get on the plane and fly to Sydney, and instantly I would meet a driver from a hotel chain that does MIQ, I They would test me there, I would go to the hotel, they would test me.
“They have offered to put me in a flat away from everyone else, to treat me only with people who are doubly vaccinated … so that they deliver my meals to my door in the morning and at night and during the day the same.” The driver would take me to Fox Studios where I have to take the test like all his staff, even to enter through the front door. “
Taylor would have to spend two weeks isolated in a hotel when he does not attend work meetings due to border restrictions currently in place in Australia.
“Once that was over, I pretended I had just flown in like a normal business and was going on a trip to Fox, I do my meetings every day, they do the test every day, they test the PCR in my hotel with my wearable device and then I would fly back to New Zealand.
“(I) would go through Auckland airport, fly to Dunedin, go into a self-isolation facility that we have here and be there only for as long as the government wants, but we would show the steps that I would go through that said two weeks is an exaggeration “.
Taylor said the business world can help the government try non-quarantine travel as its traveling teams are small, often between one and five people.
He suggests that this model could be expanded to sports teams the size of the All Blacks.
“While they’re out before they come back, they might as well do tests, which means we don’t have 40 or 50 All Blacks taking up really valuable MIQ slots for people who just don’t have these resources.
Taylor said that while the government has signaled that it is investigating a non-quarantine travel pilot, it does not expect them to have the test until December at the earliest.
The planned trip would be self-financed
Taylor is now asking the government to support his judgment so that there can be greater transparency on whether current MIQ rules are necessary.
“What the bank has done has come up with this idea with some important people backing us and we’ve done it in a week and all we’re saying to the government is’ let’s do this publicly so everyone can see what works, what doesn’t. it works and what the future might look like. ‘
“I suppose this will be the real test because it will not cost you any money, there are several important organizations that have reached out to help me, we will pay all our own costs, we have all the security protocols in place to be tested.
“So if they say no, then that really raises the question of how serious are we about living with Covid again.”
He said that if that system works, then it is clear that it can be used for businesses of one to five people.
To ensure they are fully accountable, participating companies should be accredited, he said.
“Companies are the place you will trust the most (to comply with the rules) because it is absolutely essential to your accreditation that no one breaks the rules and that everyone who works for you has a contract.”
Taylor said that the entirety of his proposed trip will be self-funded along with companies that have volunteered to help with the test, including the Dunedin-based organization that has offered him the use of a $ 18 million portable test device.
He maintains that even if his proposal is not approved, he could run the same test in Auckland to show what options exist and that could be used when travel restrictions are finally eased.