The business community pinned its hopes on the border reopening as soon as possible and says the government’s failed to hold up its end of the deal.

Business leaders say billions of dollars of opportunities are on hold while the government and the army fix up mistakes most New Zealanders thought were being managed.

The government is frantically trying to plug those gaps, while at the same time the Opposition ramps up pressure for the border to open.

Almost four million international tourists typically cross New Zealand shores each year and BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said livelihoods depend on that window opening again.

But for now, the government isn’t even resuming compassionate exemptions let alone allowing international visitors in, because there isn’t enough confidence in quarantine and managed isolation facilities.

“Until we can guarantee that, I think we have to rightly say the risk is too high, now that’s disappointing because those things are all completely manageable,” he said.

Hope said the border reopening needed to be a priority.

“We do need to get the border in because the economic impact of being shut is so significant,” he said.

Business owners accept things have moved quickly in the wake of Covid-19, and at times have been done a bit on the hop, Hope said.

But the longer it takes to clean up the mess, the bigger the losses.

In the case of international students, he said, they could be arriving right now.

“Our universities could properly quarantine people in New Zealand and we could get that part of our international economy going again. International education contributes a significant amount of money, some $5 billion a year,” he said.


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