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New Zealand’s Covid quarantine fee change places politics over a citizen’s right to return | Sarah Habershon

The government knows that to quell the mutinous grumbling at home you have to nominate an ‘outgroup’

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve taken huge comfort in the knowledge that just about everyone I love is safely inside the fortress-like border that’s been erected around New Zealand. I have no doubt that every other Kiwi still living or trapped in the Covid red-zones of the world feels the same way. But this week’s announcement that returning citizens must now commit to a stay of at least six months, double the previous requirement of three, to avoid a NZ$3,100 (£1,600) fee for their managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) prioritises politics over their right to return.

The government’s official line on the issue is that the changes are being made in the interests of fairness and sustainability. In practice, the policy amounts to a thinly veiled deterrence strategy. A strategy with the additional bonus of delivering visible action in response to public restlessness following the recent series of lockdowns. It neither contributes meaningfully to meeting the cost of the policy nor makes the policy more equitable, but it does make for a satisfying user-pays narrative to placate resentment towards the border and those who cross it.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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