Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) will be scaled down as international travel returns, COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins announced today.
“With New Zealand now reopening to the world without the requirement to isolate for most, there is a significantly reduced demand for MIQ. This of course means that we no longer need the number of facilities we currently have,” Mr Hipkins said.
By the end of June, 28 of the current 32 facilities will leave the MIQ network and return to being hotels.
“Many staff, who have done an incredible and tireless job over the last two years, have already begun going back to their roles in the health, defence and police workforces,” the Minister said.
Already, more than 300 healthcare workers and nurses and over 230 police have returned to frontline duties, and over 600 defence personnel involved in the MIQ response will now return to their units, he said.
“MBIE is working with the remainder of its workforce and with employers, to help staff as we work through this period. With many sectors experiencing workforce shortages we are confident there are opportunities for people to be redeployed into work elsewhere.”
“MIQ workers have been at the front line of keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand, and they have made considerable personal sacrifices to make sure the wider community is safe.
“They have helped almost 230,000 people return to New Zealand and helped care for more than 4,400 people who got COVID-19 in the community and isolated in MIQ facilities.
“Our staff and our facilities have been the front line in our defence that has by and large kept COVID-19 out of the country while we got vaccinated and built up our immunity to the virus. MIQ did the job it was set up for and put us in an enviable position to the world.”
Rydges Auckland will be the first facility to leave the network. Its contract comes to a natural end on 30 April and it will begin operating as a hotel again from mid-May. Conversations with other facilities are ongoing, and further details will be made public in due course, the Minister said.
“A small number of hotels will remain part of the system while the Government works through what might be needed in terms of a national quarantine capacity in the future. This could include retaining hotels or purpose-built facilities. I expect to receive formal advice on this later in 2022,” said Mr Hipkins.