History and origins of MIQ

The managed isolation and quarantine system is constantly evolving as the global situation develops and more is learned about the virus. This timeline shows the history and origins of MIQ.

Milestone timeline banner

August 2021

  • MIQ extends quarantine facilities and takes in community cases with the new Delta variant.

July 2021

  • Quarantine free travel with Australia is suspended.

June 2021

  • 11 June – Brigadier Rose King takes over as new head of MIQ Operations, co-leading with MBIE Deputy Secretary Megan Main.
  • MIQ welcomes 150,000th returnee.

May 2021

  • 20 May 2021 – Delivered over 2 million total nights in MIQ facilities.

April 2021

  • 9 April 2021 – New Zealanders mark one year since managed isolation and quarantine became mandatory.
  • 130,000 people have stayed at a facility in the last year.
  • Quarantine free travel with Australia opens.

March 2021

  • First workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • 24 March 2021 – Quarantine-free travel from Niue to New Zealand starts.

February 2021

  • 20 February 2021 – COVID-19 Immunisation Programme starts and first MIQ workers receive vaccinations.

January 2021

  • Pre-departure tests and day 0/1 testing is introduced for all arrivals except for low-risk countries including Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific nations.
  • Review of processes to keep returnees coming from the same flights together and separate from returnees who may be at a different stage of their isolation Reviewed ventilation in facilities
  • 17 January 2021 – The first of 2000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers enter managed isolation.
  • 19 January 2021 – MIQ welcomes 100,000th returnee.
  • 21 January 2021 – Quarantine-free travel from the Cook Islands to New Zealand starts.

December 2020

  • “Thanks from Iso” exhibition opens
  • New COVID-19 variants identified overseas
  • First festive season celebrated
  • 14 December – Brigadier Jim Bliss takes over as new head of MIQ, co-leading with MBIE Deputy Secretary Megan Main.
  • 25 December 2020 – Nationwide billboards thank MIQ workers, Auckland Sky Tower lights up in yellow in support of MIQ workers.

November 2020

  • Hon Chris Hipkins is appointed as Minister for COVID-19 Response responsible for MIQ.
  • 20 November 2020 – 75,000 returnees have been through MIQ.

October 2020

  • 5 October 2020 – The Managed Isolation Allocation System goes live. From 3 November 2020, travellers are legally required to have a MIQ voucher before flying if they are arriving in New Zealand.

September 2020

  • MIQ staff are tested weekly in quarantine facilities and fortnightly in managed isolation facilities.
  • 11 September 2020 – MIQ welcomes the 50,000th returnee.
  • First sports team in MIQ: The Wallabies are staying at MIQ in Christchurch.

August 2020

  • Standard Operating Procedures and Operations Framework across all facilities are in place.
  • 11 August 2020 – Charges for some users of MIQ are introduced.
  • 19 August 2020 – The New Zealand Defence Force becomes an ongoing part of MIQ and deploys 500 additional personnel taking the total to about 990 defence personnel at managed isolation facilities.
  • 20 August 2020 – Additional security systems are rolled out across facilities, including improved CCTV and electronic access systems.
  • MIQ website goes live.

July 2020

  • Responsibility for MIQ moves to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment with Deputy Secretary Megan Main appointed as co-lead with Air Commodore Webb.
  • MIQ has 31 facilities in five regions. After security breaches, a permanent police presence at each facility and additional security staff is deployed.
  • 14 July 2020 – The Bay Plaza in Wellington comes online as the 32nd and so far last managed isolation facility.
  • First deportees since the beginning of the pandemic arrive from Australia.
  • First Welcome Pack issued to returnees staying at MIQ.

June 2020

  • MIQ expands with new facilities opening in Rotorua, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland.
  • 19 June 2020 – Air Commodore Darryn (Digby) Webb and Minister of Housing Hon Megan Woods are given responsibility for overseeing managed isolation and quarantine facilities

April 2020

  • 9 April 2020 – The Director-General of Health issues an Order requiring all people entering New Zealand by air to enter managed isolation and quarantine. The first of 18 facilities open at midnight.

March 2020

  • New Zealand closes its borders to anyone but New Zealand citizens and residents. International travellers are asked to self-isolate. From 26 March, travellers stay at the Novotel Ellerslie for self-isolation. 

February 2020

  • Repatriated New Zealanders from Wuhan stay at a temporary isolation facility at Whangaparaoa.
  • 28 February 2020 – New Zealand’s first case of COVID-19 is announced
Last updated: 30 August 2021