First workers under new scheme arrive from Vanuatu in New Zealand

The first flight bringing in 154 fruit pickers and other agricultural workers from Vanuatu has arrived at Christchurch Airport today. They are part of a new program which lets them skip an MIQ stay to do a seven-day isolation period at their place of work. People from Samoa and Tonga will join those from Vanuatu from October 12.

Hawke's Bay plum orchardist Mark Vesty is one of 26 employers taking part in this new scheme. According to him, it’s a win for the industry, which has been crying out for labor for months now.

“Its ground-breaking. It's so important for our business, all the horticultural people, to be able to get their staff in without excessive costs. I’ve been in MIQ myself not so long ago, so I know how it operates and I think we can do a good job,” he told tvnz.

Employers, such as Vesty, are flying these workers into the country, and then flying or busing them to their accommodation in various parts of New Zealand including Hawke's Bay, Central Otago, and Nelson/ Marlborough.

They'll spend seven days in isolation, and have to take Covid tests on day zero and day five. However, they are able to go to work during that time. The workers have to have had at least one vaccination before arriving in New Zealand, and will have to get their second jab there if they haven’t already had it.

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