Update on managed isolation emergency applications

Published: 01 April 2021

The range of circumstances for those who need to apply for an emergency allocation of space in managed isolation to travel home to New Zealand urgently has been further widened today.

Deputy Secretary of MBIE and Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Megan Main, says this is part of MIQ’s commitment to continuously learn and improve. 

“As we notice trends in the applications we receive, we fine tune the criteria to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the people applying while keeping our community safe”, Ms Main said. 

“The Managed Isolation Allocation System(external link) became a legal requirement on November 3. Right from the start we were closely monitoring applications and in December, just a few weeks into the system being in operation, we made the first changes - broadening the range of circumstances we would consider. 

“Then at the start of this month, on 1 March, we made a change to accept applications within 14 days of the applicant’s intended travel date (up from seven days). This change provides more time for approved applicants to secure flights and complete any pre-departure testing requirements. 

“Over the last few months we’ve received applications from people who were terminally ill and wanting to return home to see loved ones, from people who were in countries where they were unsafe and from citizens from Pacific island countries who need to receive urgent medical care in New Zealand. So we have created categories for these situations so that we can more easily accommodate future applications of this nature. 

“We’ve also introduced changes to clarify the wording around the existing category for certain essential and urgent critical work that needs to happen to avoid harm to communities.

“We are also making 100 more spaces available each fortnight – increasing it from 250 to 350 rooms. We always said that we would continue to review this number to ensure it is sufficient to accommodate travel which is genuinely urgent while not compromising the operational safety of our 32 facilities. 

“Demand for space in Managed Isolation facilities is always high. The reality is that while the New Zealand border remains closed, there is finite capacity within the MIQ system to accommodate returning New Zealanders and others with immigration border exemptions. We want to get everyone home that wants to come home. But we need to do this in a safe way. For New Zealand that safe number is around 12,000 people per month – that’s twice as many as Australia per capita.

“These decisions are not easy ones to make. There are a lot of people who are in really distressing situations overseas. Brigadier Jim Bliss and I are the people who make the decisions and I know that for both of us, it’s one of the hardest parts of our job. 

“We need to balance each individual application with our critical work to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders and the limited available capacity in Managed Isolation Facilities. The changes we’re making today will mean that more people who need to get home urgently will be able to”.

Find out more about emergency allocation requests

Last updated: 31 March 2021