An Auckland man with Covid-19 spent six days isolating in his car while tens of thousands of double vaccinated travelers who tested negative are still forced to face the misery of the MIQueue lottery:
Auckland businessman Murray Bolton says he has been “inundated” with requests for assistance from desperate, double-vaccinated and COVID-negative Kiwis trying to get through New Zealand’s broken MIQ system after his own successful court challenge, but that MBIE remains obstructive and “refuses to face reality”.
“My lawyers have been absolutely inundated with requests for assistance from people from all walks of life, both trapped in New Zealand and overseas,” Mr Bolton said. “A number of people clearly have grounds for self-isolating on their return which fit with the purposes of the government’s health orders and the law as outlined by the High Court in its decision on my judicial review. But they are still facing an obstinate bureaucracy that refuses to acknowledge the law or the reality of the virus in New Zealand.”
“The stories are heart breaking. There are so many accounts of personal loss brought about by this broken system, the furthest thing you would ever expect to see from the kind of society we like to think New Zealand is.”
Mr Bolton said he has personally signed off a number of requests to fund New Zealanders’ legal assistance in navigating the MIQ exemption system through his lawyers, Martelli McKegg who are working as quickly as possible to help those they can. This may extend to further legal action to hold the government to account.
“I have also shared my extensive investment in legal research on this issue with numerous people bringing their own actions, including Grounded Kiwis.”
“Let’s call this situation what it is — obscene,” Mr Bolton said. “Scarce room spaces and our overstretched health workforce are tied up babysitting perfectly healthy returning New Zealanders, while hundreds of vulnerable Aucklanders battling COVID are left to fend for themselves.”
“As of today there are 1382 New Zealanders who caught COVID in Auckland isolating at home,” Mr Bolton said. “And we know now that many are falling through the cracks, isolating in garages or cars, or suffering with severe symptoms but unable to get the attention of the health services. These stories are appalling, and particularly unforgiveable with the resources being wasted on MIQ.”
“Professor Michael Baker, one of the most principled and consistent independent expert voices since the beginning of the pandemic and certainly no COVID-appeaser, said today MIQ is ‘redundant’ for any double-vaccinated arrivals into Auckland.”
“Every Kiwi who has contacted us for help is double-vaccinated,” Mr Bolton said. “But they have had to endure, lottery after lottery for MIQ spots and been left disappointed and hopeless. People’s loved ones are sick and dying and they cannot get back to see them.”
“I also heard about people’s incredible business innovations and opportunities for the New Zealand economy, to keep going against the tide of the pandemic or to push forward into new frontiers,” Mr Bolton said. “But MIQ means business people are unable to get out of New Zealand. Others, who left in order to keep their businesses alive overseas, have been stuck outside the border and unable to get back for more than six months. Many of these people have empty homes sitting in New Zealand that they can easily and safely self-isolate in and be no burden whatsoever to the health system. Other people have obtained spots on global programmes, with potentially invaluable networks between New Zealand and the world, but are unable to be able to take them up because they cannot get home if they leave the country.”
“MBIE have not made any amendments to their website to reflect the outcome of the judicial review decision,” Mr Bolton said. “They are living in denial and trying to keep New Zealanders in the dark about their rights. There is no information reflecting the law that allows exemptions from MIQ on grounds other than “medical” grounds. MBIE is still rejecting applications with pro forma responses, plainly not having even considered them, telling desperate people that they have to submit information they are not legally required to, and even rejecting out of hand plainly eligible exemptions.”
Obscene is the right word for this broken system.
An email from National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop says:
Did you know that right now there are just 35 people with COVID in MIQ in New Zealand (out of over 4000 people), while there are 1773 people with COVID isolating at home?
The New Zealand government is overseeing a ridiculous situation where people who actually have COVID isolate at home, not in quarantine, but fully vaccinated travellers who don’t have COVID have to go into MIQ.
This situation needs to change – not at some vague point in 2022 which is the government’s timeframe, but right now. By ending MIQ for fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand, we can free up space in quarantine for people with COVID who actually need it. You may have seen the tragic stories in the last week of people isolating and passing away at home.
It’s not just National who says this is absurd. Professor Michael Baker and his colleagues agree that Public health would be better served by having MIQ rooms available for community cases, when their homes are not suitable for home isolation. . .
MIQ for incoming travellers was sensible last year when the aim was to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand.
But now with so many people stranded off shore and with the disease wide spread in Auckland and leaking through the borders, it is no longer working.
When there’s such a shortage of MIQ beds they should be left for people with the disease who can’t self-isolate safely and double vaccinated travellers who have had negative tests should be able to skip MIQ providing they can self-isolate safely at home.
National’s petition seeking this has received nearly 90,000 signatures. You can add yours here.