Managed Isolation facilities strengthened and expanded

Two new managed isolation facilities in Rotorua have been opened as more international flights arrive in New Zealand and stricter controls are put place.

The Government has activated two new Managed Isolation facilities in Rotorua this weekend as more international flights arrive in New Zealand and stricter controls are put in place for new arrivals.

There are currently 4,272 people in managed isolation facilities and with more flights expected this week, capacity has been reached in Auckland.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb was appointed this week to oversee the operations of all quarantine and managed isolation facilities and has implemented new processes this weekend to protect New Zealanders.

Air Commodore Webb has responsibility for the entire end to end process for Managed Isolation and Quarantine including:

  • oversight of all processes within the facilities
  • provision of testing
  • enforcement of rules
  • logistical supply chains such as PPE
  • coordination of relevant agencies
  • standing up of new facilities
  • continued oversight of repatriation flights
  • accountability for those people who are in charge of each facility.

“As we bring more kiwis home, we need to expand our Managed Isolation facilities and review our processes to ensure border protections remain robust. Repatriation needs to happen in a safe and managed way which will impose additional inconveniences on travellers, says Air Commodore Webb.

“And while I sympathise with new restrictions travellers face, I make no apologies for the tough rules that are in place. Those returning to New Zealand will require personal sacrifices in order to keep the country free of COVID-19 spread.

“Government agencies worked together with the local District Health Board and hotels to open two hotels to receive returnees arriving from overseas.

“These two facilities join 18 hotels in Auckland and Christchurch to provide managed isolation services to ensure the safe transition of people back into New Zealand and the community after their 14 day managed isolation. 

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

“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.

“Today, returnees will receive more detailed instructions, and will have the opportunity to seek welfare support and to ask any questions they have.

“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.

“The plan to use the Stamford Hotel is on hold until I am satisfied it is a suitable as a Managed Isolation facility, and the Rotorua facilities had been stood up in the meantime.

“We are working to address capacity due to the increase in arrivals and may look to other regions to help accommodate future arrivals.

"It has been made crystal clear to the new arrivals that in addition to the rules, they must also take personal responsibility for ensuring they maintain social distancing and remain isolated from others. Everyone coming into the country needs to act like they have COVID-19.

“An end to end review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine process is due this week that will assess the:

  • end to end induction process
  • general security and safety of travellers
  • provision of health services; and
  • standardisation of procedures including COVID testing and screening.

“In the meantime, 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 afterhours 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.

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

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

“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.

“It is good news for thousands of travellers and their families that they can return to New Zealand where community transmission of COVID-19 has been eliminated. It is up to each and every one of them to help in maintaining this and allowing us as a nation to continue with the least restrictions in the world,” said Air Commodore Webb.