Universities and Auckland Council Want Government to Reopen Auckland

Right after New Zealand declared itself Covid free, Auckland’s mayor wants the Government to loosen border restrictions and allow the city’s economy to welcome billions in spending from the likes of international students.

In a joint submission which is being prepared by the city’s council and the education sector, ‘Reopen Auckland’ is the central plea.

City mayor Phil Goff wants Auckland to be a prototype for a quarantine process that would safely allow high-value students to come to New Zealand for their education.

This call comes after yesterday’s revelation according to which hundreds of foreigners have been allowed through closed borders — including key production crew on the blockbuster Avatar sequels. Goff now wants the Government to make other exemptions too. The Government is also under pressure to let in America’s Cup teams and key people in West Auckland’s film industry, where Amazon was gearing up to film Lord of the Rings when the lockdown hit.

He said he was working with the Auckland Council’s economic development arm Ateed and the education sector to put a proposal to the Government to let in international students. He also added that New Zealand is an attractive country for international students and the country’s strong public health response to Covid-19 will only strengthen it.

Auckland and AUT Universities both confirmed that they are working with Ateed on “a draft plan that would allow students to return to the city on a transition basis” 

According to Universities NZ chief executive Chris Whelan, “very early conversation” had taken place with the Government so far. He further said that it is probably a month or two before they would be seriously in a position of potentially something going up to the Cabinet.

National Trade Academy managing director Craig Musson has proposed a pilot with up to 20 international students in agricultural trades and English language courses who would be quarantined for two weeks at a motel in a safe rural location just outside Christchurch.

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