Information about decision to relax border restrictions for vaccinated Air New Zealand crew

Scott made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ministry of Health should normally have responded promptly and by (details and exceptions)

From: Scott

Dear Ministry of Health,

This is an OIA request relating to the Ministry of Health's decision to relax border restrictions for vaccinated Air New Zealand crew, beginning June 30.

The change in policy was first reported by Stuff:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/...

Professor Michael Plank and Dr Siouxsie Wiles, expert commentators on the Covid-19 response, have publically expressed their opinion that the new policy seems "risky":

https://twitter.com/MichaelPlankNZ/statu...
https://twitter.com/SiouxsieW/status/140...

I am hopeful that the information I request will help improve the public's understanding of this change of policy, and how the Ministry of Health came to decide that it could be made without jeopardising public health.

I request copies of all documents prepared by the Ministry of Health, including advice from advisory groups, relating to the decision to relax border restrictions for vaccinated Air New Zealand crew. This should include both the new policy that these crew can forgo managed isolation and - as the Stuff article appears to suggest - that they will also no longer be required to undergo regular Covid-19 testing.

This should include copies of all science and technical advice that informed decision-making and documents containing any sort of "risk-reward" discussion.

The most recent publically available technical advice on the topic of vaccine effectiveness against viral transmission was published by the Ministry on their "Science News" webpage and is dated 7 May:

https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/...

It noted that the ability of vaccines to reduce transmission of Covid-19 was unclear, especially when it came to emerging variants of concern. The Minsitry's reply to an OIA request indicates that this was still their understanding as at 22 June:

https://fyi.org.nz/request/15481-waiving...

I would like the Ministry's response to my request to include particularly a discussion of how the new policy was determined to be safe in spite of their being no clear picture as to the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing viral transmission, and how - if at all - the new policy mitigates the risk of a vaccinated-but-infectious crew member returning to New Zealand and causing a community outbreak.

If the 7 May technical advice has since been superseded, I would also like to request copies of the latest advice on vaccine effectiveness vis-a-vis a) reducing transmission and b) variants of concern.

I will be making another OIA request along similar lines to Covid-19 Response Minster Hipkins, so there will be no need to transfer any part of this request to his office.

Yours faithfully,

Scott

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From: OIA Requests

Kia ora Scott,

 

Thank you for your request for official information received on 24^th June
2021 for:

 

"I request copies of all documents prepared by the Ministry of Health,
including advice from advisory groups, relating to the decision to relax
border restrictions for vaccinated Air New Zealand crew.

This should include both the new policy that these crew can forgo managed
isolation and - as the Stuff article appears to suggest - that they will
also no longer be required to undergo regular Covid-19 testing.

This should include copies of all science and technical advice that
informed decision-making and documents containing any sort of
"risk-reward" discussion."

 

The Ministry's reference number for your request is: H202107586.

 

As required under the Official Information Act 1982, the Ministry will
endeavour to respond to your request no later than 22^nd July 2021, being
20 working days after the day your request was received.

 

If we are unable to respond to your request within this time frame, we
will notify you of an extension of that time frame.

 

If you have any queries related to this request, please do not hesitate to
get in touch.

 

Ngā mihi

 

OIA Services

Government Services

Office of the Director-General

Ministry of Health

E: [email address]

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From: OIA Requests

Kia ora Scott,

 

Thank you for your request for official information, received on 24 June
2021 requesting:

 

“…copies of all documents prepared by the Ministry of Health, including
advice from advisory groups, relating to the decision to relax border
restrictions for vaccinated Air New Zealand crew. This should include both
the new policy that these crew can forgo managed isolation and - as the
Stuff article appears to suggest - that they will also no longer be
required to undergo regular Covid-19 testing.

 

This should include copies of all science and technical advice that
informed decision-making and documents containing any sort of
"risk-reward" discussion.”

 

The Ministry of Health has decided to extend the period of time available
to respond to your request under section 15A of the Official Information
Act 1982 (the Act) as consultation necessary to make a decision on your
request is such that a proper response cannot reasonably be made within
the normal 20 working day time limit. The Ministry of Health will reply to
your request by no later than 12 August 2021, earlier if possible.

 

You have the right, under section 28 of the Act, to ask the Ombudsman to
review my decision to extend the time available to respond to your
request.

 

Ngâ mihi

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [1][email address]

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