COVID-19 managed isolation in New Zealand

Distinction Christchurch in use as a managed isolation hotel

Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) is a quarantine system implemented by the New Zealand Government during the country's COVID-19 pandemic. Under the system, people entering New Zealand, COVID-19 positive cases and some of their close contacts are required to isolate at an MIQ facility for 14 days. Compulsory managed isolation and quarantine was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the 1pm press conference on 9 April 2020, with the system coming into effect for people boarding flights to New Zealand from midnight that day. The government has contracted dozens of hotels in five cities that are exclusively used as managed isolation facilities. The task is organised by the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) unit, part of the COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group.

Background

On 28 February 2020, New Zealand confirmed its first case of COVID-19.[1][2] At the daily 1 pm press conference on 14 March, Ardern announced that people entering New Zealand must go into a fortnight's self-isolation beginning on 16 March; people coming from Pacific Island nations were initially exempt from these restrictions.[3] By mid-March, the government was urging New Zealanders to return home urgently.[4]

History

2020

At the daily 1 pm press conference on 9 April 2020, Ardern announced that those boarding flights after midnight that day would have to go into managed isolation provided by the government. She explained that government had been considering this measure for some time, but there simply was not the capacity to introduce these measures any earlier as almost 40,000 New Zealanders had returned since 20 March, a number larger than all the country's hotel rooms. Part of the announcement was that the government would use up to 18 hotels,[5] but this was soon increased to 26 by early July[6] and 32 by early August.[7]

Three representatives of the Defence Force, Corrections, and Police undertook a review of the managed isolation system at the end of June. They found that little pre-planning had been done, with a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) unit created as part of the COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group on 20 March, without a lead agency assigned to have ultimate responsibility. For example, agencies involved prescribed different policies for personal protective gear for their staff. There was little government oversight of arriving passengers when they transferred through the arrival halls, with a risk of travellers meeting their family or even absconding. Some travellers found out that there is mandatory quarantine in New Zealand after they had cleared customs. There was initially little coordination with airlines, with passenger manifests provided only hours before planes arrived in New Zealand; this sometimes put strains on logistics, with last-minute decisions which hotel passengers would be sent to. The compulsory second test did sometimes not arrive in a timely manner, which meant that rooms did not become available, hindering planning for accommodating new guests.[8]

In mid-June, Air Commodore Darryn Webb and Housing Minister Megan Woods were given joint responsibility for overseeing isolation and quarantine facilities.[9][10] Woods and Webb announced a number of operational changes two days after the review was received.[11]

From 5 October, anyone entering New Zealand will need to book a place at a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility using the Government's online Managed Isolation Allocation System. On the day of its launch, Stuff reported that the Managed Isolation Allocation System's website had collapsed with numerous people reporting trouble making bookings. From 12 am on 5 November, anyone entering New Zealand will be legally required to show a voucher proving that they have secured a place in an MIQ facility before flying.[12]

On 12 November, it was reported that MIQ guests at the Grand Millennium hotel in Auckland Central had mingled with residents of Vincent Residences after a fire alarm at the hotel on earlier in the week. Following reports of a community transmission at Vincent Residences, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said the alarm was not the likely cause of the community transmission because the case was already asymptomatic at the time.[13] In addition, Air Commodore Darryn Webb disputed reports that MIQ guests had mingled with Vincent Residences.[14]

2021

On 28 January 2021, the Pullman Hotel in Central Auckland was identified as the centre of an outbreak that had seen four people test positive for a South African strain. In response, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that the managed isolation facility would not be accepting new returnees and that remaining residents would have their stays extended. The Minister also confirmed that health authorities were investigating the causes of this new outbreak.[15] On 29 January, a mother whose two daughters had stayed at the Pullman Hotel criticised lapses in protocols and safety including returnees mingling and playing contact sports, which she blamed for causing one of her daughters to contract COVID-19.[16]

On 2 March 2021, the Government confirmed that it would be raising managed isolation booking fees for temporary visa holders by more than NZ$2,000 from 25 March. This price hike was criticised by the Migrant Workers Association's spokesperson Anu Kaloti and migrants residing in New Zealand with relatives overseas.[17][18]

On 22 March, Radio New Zealand and The New Zealand Herald reported that the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system was receiving an average of 100 complaints a week due to lengthy wait-times; with people having to reserve rooms at least 16 weeks in advance. This has led MIQ to consider a wait-list for peak times to managed the demand for places in MIQ.[19]

On 23 March, the New Zealand Government announced that it had raised the time needed for New Zealand permanent residents and citizens to stay in New Zealand without incurring MIQ fees from 90 days to 180 days. In addition, the Government raised the accommodation fees for temporary visa holders (including partners, spouses, legal guardians and children of returning New Zealanders) and migrant health workers; with $950 for an additional adult in a room and $475 for a child aged 3–17 for those travelling together. If travelling separately, the temporary entry class visa holder will be charged the higher fees of $5520 for the first or only person in a room, $2990 for an additional adult, and $1610 for an additional child.[20]

On 1 April, the Government confirmed that it would loosen rules for securing emergency spots in managed isolation; with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) stating that 100 more places in MIQ will be available each fortnight. This policy shift affects New Zealand citizens and residents applying to enter the country to see relatives with terminal illnesses and less than six months to live; citizens and residents who had travelled overseas to visit terminally ill relatives; citizens and residents of Pacific Islands countries requiring time-critical medical treatment in New Zealand that they can't receive at home; and those facing risks to their health and safety overseas.[21][22]

According to statistics released by the Health Ministry in early April 2021, there have been 117 imported cases from India in managed isolation since the start of February, compared with 17 from the United States and 11 from the United Kingdom.[23] In response to this and the rising number of cases in India, the New Zealand Government announced that it would close the border to travellers from India between 4pm on 11 April (Sunday) and 28 April. This temporary travel ban will also affect New Zealand citizens and residents travelling from India.[24]

On 13 April, it was reported that nearly all security guards at MIQ facilities were recruited from private security firms despite the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) deciding to employ its own security force following a privacy breach in August 2020. Following a recruit drive by MBIE, it was reported that nearly 400 people had applied for 156 security officer vacancies at MIQ facilities. MBIE had also recruited 31 of 32 operations and security managers.[25]

On 10 May, the Government announced that 500 spaces a fortnight will be allocated over the next ten months for skilled and critical workers. This will include 300 workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, with 2,400 expected to arrive by March 2022. Prior to that, ten percent of managed isolation places had been allocated to skilled and critical workers. Prime Minister Ardern confirmed that these spaces will include construction workers for the Auckland City Rail Link and Wellington's Transmission Gully Motorway. In addition, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the travel bubble with Australia would allow more places in managed isolation to be allocated to skilled and critical workers.[26]

The joint leadership roles of MIQ changed in June when New Zealand Army Brigadier Rose King replaced Brigadier Jim Bliss at the conclusion of his secondment to MBIE. She joined Megan Main as Joint Head of MIQ.[27]

Following the New Zealand Government's suspension of the travel bubble with Australia at 11:59 pm on 23 July, the Government also confirmed that New Zealanders returning home from Australia except New South Wales before 11:59 pm on 30 July will not have to go into managed isolation. Those returning from Australia after 30 July will have to go into managed isolation.[28][29]

On 2 August, Prime Minister Ardern announced that seasonal workers from Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu will be allowed to enter the country without having to undergo managed isolation from September 2021 onwards. This is to address the labour shortage in the agricultural and horticultural sector. Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu have reported low transmissions of COVID-19.[30][31]

On 22 August, the Government began voluntary home isolation of suspected and verified community cases with available quarantine capacity used primarily to house healthy and COVID-19 free returnees.[32]

On 25 August, Radio New Zealand reported that the number of MIQ rooms available to returning New Zealanders had declined due to a cohorting system that was introduced in April and May 2021 to minimise the risk of users spreading COVID-19 to later users. Between 350 and 500 MIQ rooms each fortnight are set aside for large groups such as sports teams, seasonal and construction workers, and refugees. Other factors affecting the availability of rooms including maintenance, an increase in the number of emergency allocation rooms from 250 to 350, and people not turning up for MIQ bookings.[33]

On 1 September, COVID-19 Response Minister Hipkins confirmed that the Government had extended a pause on MIQ bookings to accommodate community cases from the Auckland August 2021 Delta outbreak. Hipkins also advised New Zealand expatriates abroad to cancel their holiday plans to return to New Zealand due to pressure on the MIQ system.[34] On 2 September, the opposition National Party proposed five changes to the MIQ system including banning bots and third party providers, creating a new points system to allocate space, the introduction of a waiting list, transparency over room release dates, and the establishment of a Kiwi Expat Advisory Group.[35]

On 27 September, Ardern announced that the Government would be launching a home isolation trial for 150 selected travellers. Expressions of interest would be open from 30 September to 8 December. Participants must be New Zealand residents. In addition, Ardern confirmed that the quarantine-free travel for Pacific Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from Vanuatu, Samoa, and Tonga would resume in early October to address the agricultural and horticultural sectors' demand for migrant workers over the summer period.[36]

In October 2021, the Delta variant began spreading widely in New Zealand with community cases quickly outpacing cases detected at the border.[37] By 22 October, the country had recorded a record of 129 new community cases.[38] On 4 October, the Government abandoned New Zealand's elimination strategy, citing its failure to contained the Delta variant outbreak that began in Auckland in August 2021.[39]

On 21 October, the Government confirmed that repatriation flights carrying New Zealand citizens who had been deported from Australian under Section 501(3A) of the Australian Migration Act 1958 would resume in November 2021 following a three-month hiatus. The Government has contracted a designated MIQ facility to host these returnees.[40]

On 28 October, COVID-19 Response Minister Hipkins announced that international arrivals will only have to isolate for seven days from 14 November in an effort to free up about 1,500 rooms a month. From 8 November, fully vaccinated travellers from low risk Pacific Island countries such as the Cook Islands will be eligible for quarantine-free travel.[41][42]

On 24 November, Hipkins announced that MIQ border restrictions would be eased in a three-stage process over 2022:

  • From 17 January, all fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without having to go through managed isolation and quarantine.
  • From 14 February, all fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries without having to go through MIQ.
  • From 30 April, all fully vaccinated foreign travellers can travel to New Zealand without having to go through MIQ.[43][44][45]

On 21 December 2021, Hipkins announced that the Government would be delaying the planned reopening of the country's border to the end of February 2022 in order to combat the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. In addition, the length of stay at MIQ facilities for all travellers was raised to ten days, with no self-isolation component. Hipkins also announced that the Government would treat everyone on an international flight with a positive case as a close contact.[46]

2022

On 18 January, Hipkins postponed the next MIQ lottery due to a tenfold increase in Omicron cases detected at the border.[47][48] Grounded Kiwis member and Australian–based expatriate Maxine Strydom stated that the Government's decision would cause New Zealanders stranded abroad emotional and mental stress since many were facing expiring visas and job losses. While health economist Professor Paula Lorgelly expressed disappointment with the suspension, she said that she understood the Government's decision, describing it as "a short-term pain for what I perceive to be quite a long-term gain."[48]

On 21 January, Stuff reported that an online group for New Zealanders stranded overseas was suggesting that New Zealanders could skip the MIQ process by posing as transit passengers traversing through New Zealand. While the Head of MIQ operations Melissa Ross described attempts to enter the country without an MIQ voucher as "selfish acts" that would strain the country's MIQ system, the lawyer Arran Hunt argued that these returning travelers' actions was not illegal since Section 18 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 granted all New Zealand citizens the right to enter the country.[49]

On 3 February, Ardern announced that the country's borders would be reopened in five stages throughout 2022. Under this arrangement, vaccinated New Zealanders and eligible travellers would be able to go into self-isolation and undergo testing on arrival rather than having to enter MIQ:

  1. 11.59pm, 27 February: Self-isolation opens for New Zealanders and eligible travellers coming from Australia. The self isolation period would last for ten days.
  2. 11.59pm, 13 March: Open to New Zealanders and eligible travellers from the rest of the world; skilled workers earning at least 1.5x median wage; working holiday visa holders. The self isolation period would last for seven days.
  3. 11.59pm, 12 April: Offshore temporary visa holders who still meet visa requirements; 5,000 international students; consideration of class exemptions for critical workers who do not meet the 1.5x median wage test. The self isolation period would last for seven days.
  4. July: Anyone from Australia; visa-waiver travellers; the introduction of new Accredited Employer Work Visa, and the phasing out of skilled worker exemptions.
  5. October: Border reopens to visa categories from the rest of the world.

Unvaccinated travellers would still be required to go into MIQ facilities. While the Government plans to phase out MIQ and gradually convert facilities back into hotels and motels, it still plans to maintain a core quarantine capacity in the form of a National Quarantine Service.[50]

In response to the Government's announcement, University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker cautiously welcomed the self isolation provision but expressed concerns about supervision. University of Otago senior lecturer Dr Lesley Gray expressed support for a staged reopening since 94% of the population was double vaccinated but expressed concerns about safeguarding unvaccinated children and the vulnerable. University of Canterbury professor Michael Plank opined that a staged border reopening would help mitigate the risk of a huge jump in cases. By contrast, Dr Emily Harvey, a senior consultant/researcher at Market Economics Ltd and principal investigator with Te Pūnaha Matatini, expressed concern that the proposed rapid antigen testing regime of doing two tests between six days was insufficient and would miss a large number of infections. The National Party welcomed the planned reopening of the border while the ACT party called for the abolition of MIQ. The Green Party urged the Government to support Māori and Pasifika vaccination efforts while advocating for the free distribution of N95 or equivalent masks.[51]

On 17 February, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment amended the public health risk assessment tool to allow more people to be released from MIQ on compassionate grounds. These included more applications for allowing people travel between islands and approving applications featuring children. This amendment was approved by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.[52]

On 28 February, Ardern announced that the New Zealand Cabinet had decided based on advice from the epidemiologist David Skegg's team that vaccinated travellers entering the country will no longer need to self-isolate from 11.59pm on 2 March. This decision was balanced with other factors including the gradual reopening of New Zealand's borders and rising community cases. All travellers will be required to undergo rapid antigen testing within 24 hours and on the fifth or sixth day of their arrival. In addition, the Government accelerated its plans to reopen the border. New Zealanders and other eligible critical workers will be able to enter the country from 11:59pm on 4 March. Due to immigration processes, non-New Zealanders on temporary visas including working holiday visa holders and Recognised Seasonal Employer workers who are part of the second stage of the Government's reopening plan will be eligible to enter New Zealand from 13 March without having to self-isolate.[53] Prior to the Government's announcement, the advocacy group "Grounded Kiwis (which represents New Zealanders stranded abroad by border restrictions) had questioned the rationale for retaining the MIQ system in the light of rising community cases.[54]

List of managed isolation hotels

COVID-19 managed isolation in New Zealand is located in New Zealand
Auckland
Auckland
Hamilton
Hamilton
Rotorua
Rotorua
Wellington
Wellington
Christchurch
Christchurch
class=notpageimage|
Location of managed isolation hotels in New Zealand

The following hotels are in use, or have been used, as managed isolation facilities:[7][55]

hotel nameimageLocationComments
Crowne Plaza AucklandCrowne Plaza Hotel In The Auckland CBD.jpgAuckland
Four Points by SheratonFour Points By Sheraton Auckland.jpgAuckland
Grand Mercure AucklandAuckland
Grand MillenniumAuckland
Haka Hotel NewmarketAucklanduntil early July 2020[56]
Ibis EllerslieAuckland
M SocialAuckland
Novotel EllerslieAuckland
Pullman HotelAuckland
Ramada AucklandRamada Auckland, Federal Street.jpgAucklanduntil 1 September 2020
Rydges AucklandRydges Auckland 2020 - 2.jpgAuckland
Sebel ManukauAuckland
SO/ AucklandSofitel So Auckland.jpgAuckland
Stamford PlazaAuckland
Waipuna Hotel and Conference CentreAuckland
Holiday Inn Auckland AirportAuckland Airport
Jet Park HotelAuckland Airport
Naumi Auckland AirportAuckland Airport
Novotel Auckland AirportNew Hotel On Stilts At Auckland Airport.jpgAuckland Airport
Sudima Auckland AirportAuckland Airport
Chateau on the ParkChateau on the Park 757.jpgChristchurch
Crowne Plaza ChristchurchForsyth Barr Building, Christchurch, New Zealand 25.jpgChristchurchfrom 18 August 2020[57]
Distinction Christchurch HotelChristchurch, city centre, New Zealand (20).JPGChristchurch
Commodore HotelChristchurch Airport
Novotel Christchurch AirportNovotel Christchurch Airport 821.jpgChristchurch Airport
Sudima Christchurch AirportChristchurch Airport
Distinction Hotel Te RapaHamilton
Ibis TainuiHamilton
Jet Park HotelHamilton
Ibis RotoruaRotorua
Rydges Rotorua
Rydges Hotel, Fenton St, Rotorua - panoramio (1).jpg
(c) Bob Linsdell, CC BY 3.0
Rotorua
Sudima RotoruaSudima Pacific Tourways.jpgRotorua
Grand MercureGrand Mercure Wellington August 2020 01.jpgWellington
Bay Plaza HotelWellington

Impact

Economic impact

By 29 September 2021 the MIQ system had hosted 175,422 guests[58] and had played an important role in securing New Zealand's borders from transitioning cases with COVID-19. MIQ has propped up the accommodation sector of the New Zealand economy, making extensive use of hotel facilities (which lost access to the formerly extensive international tourism market) and providing employment for New Zealanders.[59]

On 17 November, the Government disclosed that it had failed to collect invoices worth at least NZ$36 million for MIQ stays. The New Zealand Herald also reported that an Ōpōtiki woman had been pursued by debt collectors over a NZ$4,000 bill for an MIQ stay that she never had due to mistaken identity.[60]

Mental health

According to a Radio New Zealand report published on 1 October 2021, psychologists reported emerging evidence of long-term and in some cases "severe" effects on individuals who had spent time in managed isolation and quarantine, caused by a lack of autonomy, social contact and control over their environment.[61]

In late January 2022, an Auckland builder named Paul Mullaly described the MIQ system as "cruel and inhumane" after failing to secure a place in order to visit his mother prior to her death in New Zealand. Mullaly, who is based in Ireland, was only able to watch his mother's last moments via video conference.[62]

On 17 February 2022, a survey commissioned by advocacy group "Grounded Kiwis" claimed that 78% of respondents reported that the MIQ system had an adverse impact on their physical and mental health. Of these respondents, 70 percent experienced stress, 63 percent experienced anxiety, 35 percent experienced depression, 32 percent experienced insomnia, and 12 percent experienced panic attacks. The results of the survey were released to the news broadcaster Newshub.[63]

Issues

Accessibility

The Managed Isolation and Quarantine system, faced with high demand for numbers of accommodation spots at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, has rationed access. On 20 September 2021, Stuff reported that 26,000 people were competing for 3,000 MIQ spaces listed on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website's "virtual lobby" allowing entry to New Zealand in November and December 2021.[64] In mid-September 2021, Julie South of the veterinary recruitment agency VetStaff launched a petition calling for the Government to set aside two MIQ spaces each week for overseas-based veterinarians in order to address the shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand.[65]

Difficulties for border-crossers in securing in MIQ facilities have attracted significant media and public attention.[66] In early October, The Southland Times reported that Southland Hospital's maternity unit may be downgraded since its director, Dr Jim Faherty, who had been granted compasionate leave to visit his ill parents in the United States, was unable to secure a place in MIQ.[67] On 6 October, a pregnant Auckland woman named Sami filed a legal challenge against MBIE's decision to deny her stranded husband an MIQ voucher so that he could care for her and their child. According to Stuff, the MIQ system has received 229 applications involving a pregnant person since 30 October 2020. However, there is no specific emergency allocation criteria for pregnant women or their partners who are stuck overseas. Sami has sought to change that policy.[68]

On 20 October 2021, the Chief Onbudsman Peter Boshier launched an independent investigation into the MIQ system after receiving 200 complaints about the system. According to Boshier, the complaints fit into four broad categories: "that the allocation system is unlawful, unfit for purpose, unfair, and poorly managed."[69][70]

In late January 2022, former Al Jazeera journalist Charlotte Bellis unsuccessfully attempted to secure a place in the MIQ lottery after becoming pregnant with her partner Jim Huylebroek, a photographer and contributor to The New York Times. Due to Qatar's laws penalising extramarital pregnancy, Bellis had left Qatar. Since she was unable to stay on a long-term basis in Huylebroek's native Belgium, the couple had travelled to Afghanistan, where they had visas to live, and sought help from the Taliban. Bellis publicised her ordeal in an open letter published in The New Zealand Herald.[71] Besides the New Zealand media, Bellis' case was covered by several international media including The Guardian, GB News, The Washington Post, ABC News, and the Sydney Morning Herald.[72][73][74][75][76][77][78] In response to media coverage, Chris Bunny, the head of the MIQ system, confirmed that staff had advised Bellis about making a second application that would meet the requirements for emergency travel.[74][73] Bellis' situation was highlighted by ACT Party leader David Seymour, National Party COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop, and GB News presenter Dan Wooton as an example of the perceived "cruelty" of the MIQ system.[73][79]

After COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins alleged that Bellis had spurned a Government offer for a place in emergency allocation, Bellis' lawyer Tudor Clee accused Hipkins of breaching her privacy. She also questioned the effectiveness of the emergency allocation system, citing the low success rate for pregnant women. According to The New Zealand Herald, only 29 of the emergency allocation applications involving a pregnancy that were submitted between 1 June 2021 and 1 February 2022 were approved. 65 applications were declined while 118 were cancelled by applicants or were not processed since they were incomplete. The Herald also reported that MIQ had approved 5,396 of the 8,863 emergency allocation applications submitted between 30 October 2020 and 23 January 2022.[80]

On 1 February 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had offered Bellis and Huylebroek places in managed isolation. Bellis accepted the Government's offer but reiterated that she would continue to challenge the Government's MIQ system.[81][82]

Quality issues

On 3 September 2021 a mother who tested positive for COVID-19 drew media attention after verbally abusing staff members and military personnel at the Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie MIQ facility. The woman had experienced stress and anxiety since entering into managed isolation earlier in the week with her two children. She was also frustrated by delays in the time that staff took to provide food and medicine to her and her children. The woman had posted several Facebook Live videos about her ordeal. In response, Brigadier Rose King apologised for the poor quality of the service but criticised the woman for verbally abusing staff and potentially exposing them to COVID-19. As a result, two staff members have entered into self-isolation while other staff have not returned to work due to fears about their own safety. The family was subsequently transferred by MIQ staff to a different MIQ facility.[83][84]

On 4 September, the management of the Sudima Hotel Auckland Airport facility apologised to the Quellin family after specks of urine and hair were found on the toilet seat within the family's room, but insisted they had followed normal sanitisation protocols. Mrs Quellin and her infant child had recently returned from a trip to Germany to visit her terminally-ill mother.[85]

On 7 October 2021, a Jewish MIQ guest at a Christchurch facility complained that frozen kosher meals were unfit for human consumption. In response, an MIQ facility said the team at the facility in Christchurch has solicited advice on how to best meet the requirements of a kosher diet.[86]

Breaches and incidents

2020

On 5 July 2020, it was reported that a woman who had escaped managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland had been apprehended and charged with breaching the 14-day isolation period under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. The woman had arrived from Australia on 27 June.[87][88]

On 8 July, a 32-year-old man, who had arrived from India, was charged with violating Section 26 (1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 after he escaped managed isolation at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in central Auckland. He visited the Countdown supermarket in Victoria Street before being located by security guards after 70 minutes. After the man tested positive for COVID-19, the supermarket closed temporarily, with its staff entering into self-isolation.[89]

On 10 July a man was arrested for violating the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 after he had cut through a fence at a managed-isolation facility at Distinction Hotel in Hamilton and visited a liquor store the previous night.[90] The man had tested negative for COVID-19 and was later identified as a 52-year-old Queenstown resident,[91] who had returned from Sydney on 1 July.[90] On 27 August the Hamilton District Court sentenced him to 40 hours' community service and ordered him to pay NZ$1,000 in reparations for damaging a flat-screen television set in his room.[92]

On 11 July a man in his 60s escaped a managed-isolation facility at Waipuna Hotel in Auckland and knocked on the doors of three residents outside the facility. He was subsequently picked up by police and placed under armed guard at Waipuna Hotel.[93][94]

On 25 July it was reported that authorities had detained a family of five (comprising a mother and four children aged 12, 16, 17, and 18) for breaching managed isolation at the Distinction Hotel in Hamilton. The family had arrived from Brisbane in Australia on 21 July in order to attend a relative's funeral in Auckland. While the family's application for an exemption was being processed by the Health Ministry, they had escaped by breaking a window and scaling a fence. Police apprehended four members of the family in a nearby park, while the 17-year old had travelled to Auckland where he was detained by police there. Government minister Woods criticised the family breaking the rules, stating that "while we can understand their grief we can not let one tragedy to turn into a tragedy of hundreds". Four members of the family were charged with breaching a Health Act notice.[95] On 28 August, the mother and her 18-year-old daughter were sentenced to 14 days imprisonment by Judge Noel Sainsbury of the Auckland District Court.[96] The mother and her daughter's harsher sentence in comparison to a 52-year-old man in Hamilton who was sentenced to no jail time raised questions about alleged "systematic racism" in the New Zealand justice system against Māori.[97] New Zealand Public Party leader Billy Te Kahika has advocated on behalf of the woman and her family, also claiming credit for getting her sentence reduced by seven days.[98]

On 30 July a 32-year-old man who had travelled from Brisbane was apprehended following a failed attempt to breach managed isolation at the Crowne Plaza in central Auckland. The man was charged under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act.[99]

On 14 October a 22-year-old woman was charged with allegedly trying to escape from Auckland's Grand Millennium Hotel during three incidents in October 2020.[100]

On 11 November the West Indies cricket team were denied further training privileges after members breached managed-isolation rules by mingling and sharing food while in managed isolation at the "Chateau in the Park" hotel in Christchurch.[101]

2021

On 29 January 2021 a staff member at Auckland's Grand Millennium Hotel was dismissed after a 20-minute "encounter" with a returnee in managed isolation.[102]

On 7 February the final 60 returnees at the Pullman Managed Isolation Facility completed their health checks and were released. The facility planned a deep clean per infection prevention and its systems will be reviewed.[103]

On 23 February an Australian traveller named Lucinda Baulch was released after spending 28 days in managed isolation in Wellington while refusing to take a COVID-19 test. The woman had attended an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne in November 2020. National Party leader Judith Collins called for the deportation of the woman back to Australia.[104]

In early June 2021 New Zealand authorities placed three Melbourne residents in managed isolation after they entered New Zealand without informing authorities that they had circumvented a two-week lockdown in Melbourne by driving to Sydney and then flying to Auckland. The three individuals had intended to attend a funeral in New Zealand.[105][106]

On 17 June 2021 Radio New Zealand reported that 12 travellers from Samoa at the Crowne Park managed-isolation facility in Auckland had breached managed isolation by socialising on three occasions despite receiving warnings. All 12 remained with the threat of an extended MIQ stay if anyone in the group were to test positive for COVID-19; four received a police warning.[107]

On 2 September a COVID-19 "community" case absconded from the Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie MIQ facility in Auckland and returned to his home. Police detained the man following a 12-hour manhunt. He later appeared in court via phone and was charged with breaching a COVID-19 public-health order. He was bailed back to the Novotel facility.[108] The National Party's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop sought an investigation by the Government into delays by MIQ staff and police in reporting and responding to the individual's escape.[109] The man's mother, known as "Mele", confirmed that she had alerted the authorities to her son's escape and apologised for his actions.[110]

On 4 September, a man made two attempts to access the Stamford Plaza quarantine facility in Auckland, but was discovered by staff. Police issued the man with two warnings for unlawfully accessing the property and breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules.[111]

On 20 October, joint head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King confirmed that three COVID-19 positive community cases staying at the Holiday Inn hotel near Auckland Airport had allegedly absconded the previous night. Two of the men were apprehended while one remained at large.[112]

Legal challenges

In early September 2021, a pregnant New Zealand woman named Bergen Graham filed a legal challenge against the Health Minister Andrew Little and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment after making six unsuccessful attempts to secure a place in MIQ through the voucher system. Graham, who was living in El Salvador, had sought to return to New Zealand since February 2021 due to her high risk pregnancy stemming from a blood condition. MBIE subsequently granted her a place in MIQ, leading her to drop her legal challenge. However, Graham's lawyer Francis Joychild QC confirmed that other plaintiffs would continue with their legal actions over MIQ bookings on the grounds that the MIQ system was breaching Section 18 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.[113]

On 8 October 2021, an advocacy group called "Grounded Kiwis" filed a judicial review claim in the High Court against the Health Minister Little, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, and the Chief Executive of MBIE claiming that they had they acted "unlawfully and unreasonably” in the design and operation of the MIQ system." Grounded Kiwis spokesperson Alexandra Birt alleged that the Government had failed to protect the rights of New Zealanders to enter the country and claimed that the "first-in-first served" allocation system breached Section 18(2) of the Bill of Rights Act 1990. The group was represented by Wellington barristers Paul Radich QC and Lucila van Dam, barristers of Clifton Chambers law firm in Wellington. Grounded Kiwis also filed to be an incorporated society representing New Zealanders affected by the MIQ system.[114] By 10 October, Grounded Kiwis had raised more than NZ$72,000 through a Givealittle fundraising campaign.[115]

On 14 December, Grounded Kiwis submitted a petition with 22,888 signatures to the New Zealand Parliament, calling for the MIQ system to better align with the Bill of Rights. The group was received by the National Party's COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop, ACT Party leader David Seymour and Green Party Member of Parliament Elizabeth Kerekere. Bishop described the MIQ allocation system as a "lottery of human misery that had gone on far too long" while Seymour described the current MIQ situation as "verging on a form of torture." Kerekere stated that the MIQ situation "was not just a Bill of Rights issue, but also of the Treaty of Waitangi."[116]

See also

References

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External links

  • "Managed Isolation and Quarantine". Managed Isolation and Quarantine website. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Retrieved 21 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Media files used on this page

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SARS-CoV-2 logo in Wikimedia colors
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Flag of New Zealand. Specification: http://www.mch.govt.nz/nzflag/description.html , quoting New Zealand Gazette, 27 June 1902.
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The rod of Asclepius as depicted in the WHO logo.
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VIH - HIV / SIDA - AIDS viruses.
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Grand Mercure Wellington used as COVID-19 managed isolation hotel with security fences at the front.
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Ramada Auckland, Federal Street
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Sudima Rotorua
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Chateau on the Park
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Rydges Hotel, Fenton St, Rotorua
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Rydges Hotel, Federal Street Auckland, on 15 October 2020, while being used as a managed isolation facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Novotel Auckland Airport hotel just being finished in the forecourt of the International Terminal of Auckland Airport in Auckland, New Zealand. Looking west from car park, coordinates somewhat approximate.
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Novotel Christchurch Airport
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Distinction Hotel Christchurch used as COVID-19 managed isolation hotel.
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Forsyth Barr Building, Christchurch, New Zealand
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Christchurch Central City, New Zealand
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Plain red disc
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Four Points By Sheraton, 396 Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand