New Zealand has announced that it will slowly open international borders this year due to rising skill shortages in the country.
Despite imposing some of the strictest safety measures to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, massive skill shortages in New Zealand have left several critical industries desperate for personnel.
Among New Zealand’s severe coronavirus prevention measures are strict border closures, which prevent anyone other than New Zealand residents and citizens from entering the country.
Such strict lockdowns and safety measures have been highly successful in containing the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, and limited the number of deaths due to the virus to only 26 throughout the pandemic.
However, despite New Zealand being extremely efficient and successful in containing the pandemic, border closures and travel restrictions have adversely impacted migration.
Last year, New Zealand’s net migration was recorded to be only 6,600 – only 7 per cent of the 91,000 recorded in 2019.
Essential industries in New Zealand that depend on migrant workers, such as the healthcare sector, have suffered from severe migrant shortages caused by restricted migration.
In fact, New Zealand’s skilled migrant shortages have been so dire that hospital midwives went on strike to protest staff shortages reaching crisis levels.
As such, key industries in New Zealand have begun lobbying to the federal government to reopen international borders for fully vaccinated migrants, at the very least.
Although New Zealand has been suffering from critical skills shortages during the pandemic, critics have argued that focusing on improving the vaccination program should be of higher importance.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccination drive had been somewhat sluggish towards the beginning, with only around 17 per cent of the Kiwi population being fully vaccinated less than a month ago.
However, vaccination among Kiwis has picked up the pace, as 62 per cent of the population are either eligible or have booked the second dose of the vaccine, according to data from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health.
In comparison, more than 65 per cent of the Canadian population has been fully vaccinated, as has 52 per cent in the USA.
Despite announcing the planned reopening of international borders later this year, New Zealand will continue to maintain a zero-tolerance policy against the spread of Covid-19.