We urgently need to understand that this battle against COVID-19 is a marathon, it isn’t a sprint and in recognising this, we need to add to our current defences of strict border quarantines and personal hygiene obligations like mask-wearing, social distancing and reduced socialisation with an enormous empowering of local communities and an immediate amnesty on the entire overstayer population of NZ.
We know that empowered communities are going to be able to communicate health warnings and guidelines to those most vulnerable to this virus so ensuring those communities are resourced to have the agency to respond is the first priority.
That’s Pacifica, Māori, Asian, Indian and Migrant community organisations who require urgent resourcing now.
But we need more than that.
There are an estimated 11000+ Overstayers in NZ, this Community would be kindling for an outbreak. The Government has stated that no one should fear coming forward if they have immigration issues, but I think that there needs to be a more defined statement here to ensure that community feel confident enough to step forward out of the shadows.
This can’t end until there is a vaccine, and that is still most likely at the end of 2022, so this constant state of ready response needs to be actively maintained at least for another 2 years.
That actively maintained a state of readiness requires multiple strategies to work, resourcing the Communities at the coalface and offering amnesty to overstayers are essential parts of that strategy.