Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has rejected having more managed isolation options in Auckland and Rotorua due to health and MIQ workforce constraints.
This comes after National MP Todd McClay, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and Labour List MP Tamati Coffey united in opposition calling for no more managed isolation and quarantine facilities in the Rotorua region. Waititi was vocal on social media, launching a petition to stop having new MIQ facilities in Rotorua, and shared this to Facebook on September 21.
Yesterday saw Minister Hipkins says that it was then "unlikely" that new MIQ facilities would be set up in Rotorua, given the community's pushback.
An additional hotel will be made available in Christchurch, with the final stages being signed off for The Quality Hotel Elms to be used as a managed isolation facility.
Hipkins says, "We asked MBIE to find new facilites to help balance the reduced capacity overall due to added protections we have put in place to combat Delta. These include cohorting, taking hotels offline to boost their ventilation systems and the conversion of two isolation facilities for quarantine.
“We want to assure Kiwis overseas that we are doing everything we can to facilitate their safe return. The new hotel will result in 85 more rooms for returnees and brings the numbers of facilities in the network to 32.
“Before hotels are added to the network they must meet a rigorous safety, public health and staffing criteria,” Hipkins said.
“This includes appropriate ventilation, staff ‘green’ zones, separate entry and exit points, and CCTV capability.
“The Elms met these criteria, has a modern ventilation system, a large carpark and is set back from the road. Following positive consultation with iwi, local stakeholders and the district health board, officials are now working toward a go-live date that could be from mid-November onward.
Chris Hipkins said MIQ would remain a critical part of the country's Covid-19 defence for the forseeable future and was fundamental to the Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.
“As well as bringing the new facility on board, the government is working on medium and long-term options for a sustainable and stable MIQ model. How we manage returnees will also continue to evolve, depending on vaccination rates here and overseas."