200 arrivals from Australia flights bused to new Rotorua isolation hotels

By Te Ao - Māori News

The government has 'activated' two hotels in Rotorua this weekend as managed isolation facilities, as Auckland quarantine facilities reach capacity and more international flights are due to arrive in New Zealand.

There are currently 4,272 people in managed isolation facilities throughout the country with more flights expected this week.

On Saturday more than 200 arrivals from Australia were transported by bus from Auckland to the Rotorua facilities. 

“In total, 232 returnees were transferred by seven dedicated buses from Auckland International Airport following their arrival on three flights from Australia yesterday," Air Commodore Darryn Webb says.

He was appointed to oversee the country's quarantine and managed solation requirements by the prime minister earlier this week.

“The buses had a bathroom stop at Waharoa. Protocols were put in place to ensure the bathroom facilities were cleaned after the stop.

“On arrival in Rotorua, returnees were moved off the bus in groups and were greeted by government and health staff. As part of the arrival process, returnees were given a briefing, completed medical forms, seen by a nurse, received food and then taken to their rooms. As in other facilities, it was emphasised the requirement for returnees to keep physical distance from others.

He says he is aware the new arrivals thought they would be isolating in Auckland.

“I acknowledge that those arriving on this flight had an expectation they were completing their managed isolation in Auckland. However, an increase in arrivals returning to New Zealand has required alternative plans to be put in place."

Air Commodore Webb says Defence Force and Police presence at the country's managed facilities have been increased.

“The number of personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force onsite at the managed isolation facilities in Auckland has been doubled to 72 staff.

“Police’s onsite presence has also increased, with additional staff in each facility, and specifically identified after-hours support should it be required.

“These personnel will assist local staff in a number of roles, including ensuring the security and safety of returnees during their time in managed isolation."

He says firmer testing processes and systems have been established.

“Testing has been ramped up and all returnees must be tested on day three and day twelve of their stay.

“We have robust systems, and strong accountability at both a national level through my role, and at each of the facilities through a designated onsite operational lead."

Air Commodore Webb says he is also placing a high level of responsibility on new arrivals to do their part to safeguard the country.

“However, people must be responsible for their own actions. We did not require a police officer on every street corner during the lockdown here in New Zealand, and each New Zealander played their part. We are asking the same of returnees during their stay in managed isolation and quarantine to take responsibility for their own actions and to ensure they abide by the requirements of their stay.

“Let me be very clear, people must take responsibility for their actions, and if they choose not to, there are consequences."