League star joins chorus of Kiwis wanting open borders

By Will Trafford

Rugby league legend Shaun Johnson is joining a growing number of Kiwis calling on the Prime Minister to abandon Aotearoa’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities (MIQ), and open the border.

Johnson took to Instagram bemoaning the MIQ system in a comment on a post of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s, asking people to get a booster.

Ardern had written ‘if I could ask just one thing of everyone today it would be this - please get a booster'."

In his comment, liked by more than 20,000 the NRL star wrote “If there's one thing I could ask of you today is please open our borders and at least allow home quarantine. Put faith in the 96% that have listened and followed your rules to do the right thing if there is an outbreak.”

"The negative effects your current system is having on Kiwis and their families is far worse than the virus."

Last year Johnson re-signed to the Warriors, who since the covid crisis began have been forced to train in Australia to participate in the NRL season because of border restrictions reimposed after successive coronavirus outbreaks in Australia.

He signed off his post "respectfully", noting he was "double vaxxed" and had previously had covid.

The former Kiwis star joins a growing chorus of high-profile Kiwis who have attacked the MIQ system over the past year, including tech and sailing entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor (Ngati Kahungunu) and former Prime Minister Sir John Key.

Controversy over MIQ hit fever pitch in recent days after Charlotte Belis, a former Newshub journalist had an emergency MIQ application rejected after she became pregnant while working in the Middle East for Arab news network Al Jazeera.

Belis had to leave the network’s HQ, Muslim-majority country Qatar because the region's observance of Sharia law means being unmarried and pregnant is illegal there.

Comments on Johnson’s posts and Belis’ article in the New Zealand Herald newspapers have been mixed. Many support her requests for the government to overhaul the rules, while others argue the government has been clear on Aotearoa’s border controls since the crisis began.

“If you choose to travel or live overseas there are consequences of your decision.  You need to own that.” wrote popular women’s rights activist and environmentalist Lillian Tahuri on Twitter.

The Prime Minister, who is self-isolating, is yet to respond to Johnson’s post. Her office has been contacted for comment.