TOP says purpose-built MIQ Facilities are urgently needed
“25,000 Kiwis are trapped overseas and unable to return because we have severely limited MIQ spaces. 25,000 Kiwis unable to see terminally ill loved ones, unable to celebrate milestones with friends and families, and unable to return to live in their own country because there is not enough space in MIQ.
“MIQ is the only way into New Zealand. It is designed to be the gate that keeps COVID out. Although to say it was designed is a bit generous. As a matter of expedience and urgency, hotels were rapidly converted into managed isolation facilities. These hotels are usually located in busy urban areas and the worst place to host potential COVID cases. TOP has been calling for purpose-built MIQ outside of Auckland for over a year now. The evidence is crystal clear:
1. Increased capacity
allows Kiwis to return home. Dedicated facilities can
increase the number of rooms available and be better
designed to stratify travels based on risk. Low risk
travelers (vaccinated, from a low COVID area, negative
predeparture test) could spend a shorter time in managed
isolation – getting more people through. The lack of
spaces was understandable at the start of the pandemic, but
we are now more than 18 months into it and it will continue
for some time. The Government has an obligation to its
citizens to allow them to come home.
are not fit for purpose. Many health experts agree that
hotels and COVID is an accident waiting to happen. Some
isolation hotels have been shut down further limiting the
spaces available because of the high health risk. We need to
plan long term and reduce the risk of further lockdowns.
Already the current outbreak in Auckland is proving
difficult to get under control. We must use what little time
we have to make these outbreaks less likely to
3. Reduce the risk of COVID infections
in our Māori and Pasifika communities. Auckland is home to
a large Māori and Pasifika community, who have been shown
to be at greater risk of being caught up in these outbreaks.
The health risks to Māori and Pasifika who catch COVID is
also greater than for Pākehā. MIQ must
4. Makes the elimination strategy more
sustainable. Elimination is still the best approach for New
Zealand. However, it can be hard to stomach that when it is
your family you can’t visit, your loved one’s funeral
you can’t attend or your child’s birthday you have to
cancel. By increasing the accessibility of our MIQ system,
it will reduce the social strain of the elimination strategy
while keeping us safe from COVID. This will increase the
social license needed to keep pursuing elimination, keeping
it viable for as long as possible.
5. Even as we open travel bubbles around the world, there will still be places for a long time that will be struggling with COVID or future pandemics to deal with. Having these facilities is future proofing New Zealand’s public health.
“With these things in mind, we again call for the Government to move MIQ out of Auckland and into dedicated fit for purpose facilities. With over 25,000 Kiwis trying to return home and only 3,000 spaces, the Government must act. It has already lost a year. We cannot afford to delay any more.”