Celebrating Christmas in MIQ

Published: 23 December 2021

MIQ’s General Manager of Operations, Chris Scahill, says staff in MIQ facilities around the country are gearing up to make Christmas something special.

“While many New Zealanders are looking forward to a summer break, our work to protect Aotearoa New Zealand from COVID-19 doesn’t stop”, he said.

“At MIQ, we are committed to giving returnees the best festive experience we can, while keeping them and our staff and communities safe from COVID-19.

“On Christmas day we’re expecting around 3,200 returnees in our 32 facilities – about 500 will be children.

“Hotels are used to looking after people and showing manaakitanga (hospitality) through the festive season. Staff across the facilities are organising a range of different festive activities and experiences for returnees, including special festive meals for Christmas day, Christmas trees and music.

“Most MIQ facilities are planning some special Christmas themed menus for the big day.

“Menus will vary across the facilities, but returnees will be tucking into a variety of festive fare, such as roast turkey with stuffing, glazed ham, tofu and mushrooms for the vegetarians, and sweet treats such as cookies for children on Christmas Eve, pavlova with strawberries, Xmas mince pies and candy canes, and a complimentary glass of bubbles or sparking grape juice.

“We are encouraging returnees to create festive window art with whatever they have to hand. We are also planning several surprises for returnees to bring them some festive cheer.

“We’ve been reassured that Santa will be allowed into Aotearoa this year. When visiting managed isolation facilities, he will of course strictly follow all health and safety rules.

“Some facilities are extending the good cheer out to New Year’s Eve, such as petit fours and a glass of bubbles to have at midnight.

“I want to thank all of the amazing people working at our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. They will be away from their whanau over the Christmas period to help keep existing and emerging strains of Covid out of New Zealand. They are our frontline defence against COVID-19. Every day they put themselves between us and the virus, to keep returning New Zealanders and our communities safe.

“They have done a superb job throughout 2021 and I thank them for their continued commitment to the job over the festive season.”

Notes for Editors

MIQ by the numbers (Since 9 April 2020)

  • 32 managed isolation and quarantine facilities in 5 regions (Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch)
  • Over 200,000 returnees and over 3,600 community cases through MIQ
  • 16.7 million meals and snacks served
  • Around 4,000 people working in MIQ across the country on Christmas Day.
  • Around 3,200 returnees in MIQ on Christmas Day – about 500 will be children.

Receiving parcels

Returnees can receive parcels and deliveries from a courier, mail person, or family and friends as long as they are a reasonable size and quantity, don’t contain prohibited items and the facility has the capacity to receive them. They should contact staff at their facility to discuss. But we ask them not to leave it to the last minute.

Festive cheer

Most facilities have had Christmas trees and decorations up for a few weeks and Christmas music playing. Other examples of festive cheer across different facilities:

  • A reindeer food station will be set-up outside for the kids to feed them the night before Christmas.
  • Stockings on the door on Christmas morning filled with treats
  • Cookies on Christmas Eve for children to decorate
  • Festive photo competitions
  • An ‘in-house’ Santa is rumoured to be onsite at one facility on Christmas Day

Guest wellbeing

Being in managed isolation is challenging, especially during the festive season when many returnees will be apart from whanau and loved ones. We will be reminding returnees and community cases that information and tools are available to help them feel mentally well and get through isolation.

Their first point of contact is the on-site health staff. We are also mindful that not all returnees will celebrate the festive season.

Staff wellbeing

Supporting the wellbeing of our MIQ workers in the holiday period is a priority. Managers will be recognising their staff for their great mahi!