ZB

Thousands of New Zealanders vie for MIQ spots as lottery begins

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Jan 2022, 1:10pm
A recent arrival waves from a room at the Grand Millennium MIQ hotel in Auckland. (Photo / Michael Craig)
A recent arrival waves from a room at the Grand Millennium MIQ hotel in Auckland. (Photo / Michael Craig)

Thousands of New Zealanders vie for MIQ spots as lottery begins

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Jan 2022, 1:10pm

Thousands of New Zealanders are set to try again to get rare MIQ spots this afternoon, with the first lottery since December 16 starting at 1pm. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has said roughly 1250 rooms will be released for usage in March and April. The virtual lobby, which can be accessed here, opened at midday. 

However, people wishing to return home from Australia are out of luck. They will be excluded from the lottery. 

The MIQ room release was previously scheduled for two days before Christmas but it was postponed until today after the Omicron outbreak in many other parts of the world prompted the government to scrap its self-isolation component for new arrivals. 

The self-isolation scheme received criticism after the nation's first Omicron exposure to the community was caused by Rhythm and Alps performer DJ Dimension, who failed to correctly follow the self-isolation rules. 

New arrivals are now staying at MIQ facilities for 10 days, whereas previously the requirement was seven days in MIQ followed by self-isolation. 

The Omicron variant has also resulted in the government delaying plans for a "self-isolation pathway from Australia", which has been set to begin on January 16. As a result, there are currently no red flights scheduled from our cross-Tasman neighbour for March or April. 

"For this reason, those travelling from Australia will not be able to participate in tomorrow's room release," a message on the Managed Isolation and Quarantine website stated yesterday. "MIQ is working with airlines in relation to schedules and future releases. 

"There are further rooms available for March and April that will be released in future lobbies." 

The Government's three-phase plan to reopen the country's international borders has been pushed out to February. 

The first stage is set to allow fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers to travel from Australia and self-isolate at home for seven days instead of going through MIQ. 

Phase 2 will allow fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers from all other countries to travel to New Zealand with self-isolation instead of MIQ. It had previously been planned to begin on February 13. 

The delay, officials said, is to allow more time for New Zealanders to receive a booster dose of the Covid vaccination. Three doses are believed to provide better protection against Omicron.