New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced that seasonal workers from Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu will be allowed to work in the country under one-way quarantine-free travel to resolve the labour shortage problems in the horticulture industry. Ardern also added that the quarantine free arrangement is expected to see a beginning from September 2021. Seasonal Workers who qualify under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme will avail the quarantine-free travel facilities. More details of the new scheme will be announced next week.
The Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme is a policy measure that permits the horticultural industry to hire overseas labour for seasonal work in cases of indigenous and native labour shortage. The scheme was withdrawn last year after the country shut down its border because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ardern affirmed that many countries like New Zealand shut down their borders because of COVID-19 and faced workforce shortages. However, she also recognised the challenges faced by the agricultural sector nowadays. New Zealand is in the process of reopening its borders gradually.
On the front of containment of COVID-19, New Zealand has successfully managed to do so, as there are no cases of community transmission since February 2021. It recently reported 2500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths.