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Update On Managed Isolation Emergency Applications

The range of circumstances for those who need to apply for an emergency allocation of space in managed isolation to travel home to New Zealand urgently has been further widened today.

Deputy Secretary of MBIE and Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Megan Main, says this is part of MIQ’s commitment to continuously learn and improve.

“As we notice trends in the applications we receive, we fine tune the criteria to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the people applying while keeping our community safe”, Ms Main said.

“The Managed Isolation Allocation System became a legal requirement on November 3. Right from the start we were closely monitoring applications and in December, just a few weeks into the system being in operation, we made the first changes - broadening the range of circumstances we would consider.

“Then at the start of this month, on 1 March, we made a change to accept applications within 14 days of the applicant’s intended travel date (up from seven days). This change provides more time for approved applicants to secure flights and complete any pre-departure testing requirements.

“Over the last few months we’ve received applications from people who were terminally ill and wanting to return home to see loved ones, from people who were in countries where they were unsafe and from citizens from Pacific island countries who need to receive urgent medical care in New Zealand. So we have created categories for these situations so that we can more easily accommodate future applications of this nature.

“We’ve also introduced changes to clarify the wording around the existing category for certain essential and urgent critical work that needs to happen to avoid harm to communities.

“We are also making 100 more spaces available each fortnight – increasing it from 250 to 350 rooms. We always said that we would continue to review this number to ensure it is sufficient to accommodate travel which is genuinely urgent while not compromising the operational safety of our 32 facilities.

“Demand for space in Managed Isolation facilities is always high. The reality is that while the New Zealand border remains closed, there is finite capacity within the MIQ system to accommodate returning New Zealanders and others with immigration border exemptions. We want to get everyone home that wants to come home. But we need to do this in a safe way. For New Zealand that safe number is around 12,000 people per month – that’s twice as many as Australia per capita.

“These decisions are not easy ones to make. There are a lot of people who are in really distressing situations overseas. Brigadier Jim Bliss and I are the people who make the decisions and I know that for both of us, it’s one of the hardest parts of our job.

“We need to balance each individual application with our critical work to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders and the limited available capacity in Managed Isolation Facilities. The changes we’re making today will mean that more people who need to get home urgently will be able to”.

See the MIQ website for more details.

Media contact: 027 442 2141 media@mbie.govt.nz

Latest numbers

· More than 127,000 people have been through managed isolation and quarantine since March 2020.

· Since 5 October when MIAS began operating, 119,611 passengers have secured vouchers through MIAS.

· 83,386 vouchers have been provided, noting that 1 voucher can cover up to 12 people travelling as either a couple, family or travel party who wish to isolate together.

· To date, 3,088 emergency allocation applications have been processed, 1,682 have been approved.

About the changes

Emergency allocations are processed in a tiered system. Applications are prioritised depending on their category, as these reflect the most urgent and time-critical situations which may require travel to New Zealand. Category 1 applications will be given priority over Category 2.

There is no guarantee that a person who fits within these categories will receive an emergency allocation, as this will depend on the numbers of applicants and available places at the time.

The emergency allocation process is a last resort option and the threshold is extremely high. To be eligible for an emergency allocation, the travel must be time-critical, the applicant must be legally entitled to enter New Zealand and they must be willing to travel within seven days of making their application. Evidence will be required to support all applications to ensure a fair and consistent process and it is important to note that people still need to complete their 14 days Managed Isolation.

Changes to the existing criteria are shown in red and bold.

Categories for Emergency Allocation requests
PriorityCircumstance or reason that applies
Category 11a) New Zealand citizens or residents where a serious risk to health or safety exists for the applicant or their dependent, which requires urgent travel to New Zealand; OR
1b) Where urgent travel is required to ensure a child is provided with appropriate care and protection.
Category 22a) New Zealand citizens or residents who are required to provide critical care for a dependant person in New Zealand and need to travel urgently to do so; OR
2b) A person whose entry to New Zealand is time-critical for the purpose of commencing work that involves delivering a critical public or health and disability service, such as the clinical and direct provision of specialist health services required to prevent serious illness, injury or death; or the maintenance of essential infrastructure or lifeline utilities whose failure would result in significant harm or disruption to a large number of New Zealanders;
2c) New Zealand citizens or residents, who are unable to legally remain in their current location and have no other option but to return to New Zealand; OR
2d) New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens, where urgent travel to New Zealand is required for national security, national interest or law enforcement reasons; OR

2e) New Zealand citizens or residents:

i. entering New Zealand to visit a close relative who is living with a terminal illness or end-stage disease (with a life expectancy of six months or less), where timely travel is unlikely to be possible if the person books through the Managed Isolation Allocation System; OR

ii. who are living with a terminal illness or end-stage disease (with a life expectancy of six months or less) entering New Zealand to visit a close relative or to reside in New Zealand, where timely travel is unlikely to be possible if the person books through the Managed Isolation Allocation System; OR

iii. who are living with a terminal illness or end-stage disease (with a life expectancy of less than six months) who have travelled or are travelling to visit a close relative who resides overseas, where timely return travel is unlikely to be possible if the person books through the Managed Isolation Allocation System; OR

iv. who have travelled or are travelling to visit a close relative who is living with a terminal illness or end-stage disease (with a life expectancy of six months or less) and resides overseas, where timely return travel is unlikely to be possible if the person books through the Managed Isolation Allocation System.

2f) Citizens or residents of Pacific countries requiring access to time-critical medical treatment in New Zealand under an official medical treatment scheme that is unavailable in their own country, and accompanying clinical personnel or essential caregivers.

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