Covid 19 coronavirus isolation hotels: Queens Wharf now off-limits

Returnees staying at four of Auckland’s managed isolation hotels will no longer enjoy waterfront outings on Queens Wharf, as the area is no longer being made available.

Up until this week, a dedicated area had been set aside at the city’s waterfront for people in isolation being put up at hotels without space for exercise.

A Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) spokesperson told the Herald on Sunday that from Thursday October 29, that site was no longer available.

As New Zealand is now at Level 1, and with the longer days and summer around the corner, public events are scheduled at the wharf, the spokesperson said.

They said a range of alternatives had been explored over the past few weeks and in a further statement last night, they said they had found a new area.

“We are finalising an option so that the four MIFs [Managed Isolation Facilities] concerned will be able to resume facilitated walks this weekend.

“We know how important daily exercise and fresh air is for all of us. We will be communicating with returnees as soon as final approval on this site has been reached,” the spokesperson said.

In the update last night, a spokesperson said: “We were delighted to have been able to advise returnees at the four Auckland Managed Isolation Facilities affected that a suitable alternative exercise site was signed off last evening (Friday 30 October).

“Some returnees were able to enjoy some fresh air and exercise this afternoon (Saturday 31 October). The walks were facilitated by MIF management and further details of location and arrangements will be made public tomorrow (Sunday November 1).”

How did the dedicated area operate?

People from the hotels were transported to and from the wharf by bus and accompanied at all times under the watch of security staff. They wore PPE at all times and could exercise for up to one hour a day.

There were four separate sections in the exercise area on the wharf, with raceways separated by double fencing from the public areas of Queens Wharf and from each other.

“This ensures that returnees are not mixing with members of the public or with returnees from other managed isolation facilities. Physical distancing is maintained within each area at all times,” a MIQ spokesperson said back in August.

The area had been in place since March for returnees staying at Sheraton Four Points, Rydges Hotel Auckland, SO Hotel, and Grand Mercure.

Rules of managed isolation

Under Government regulations, people returning to New Zealand have to complete 14 days at a managed isolation facility before being able to interact with the public.

During their stay, they are expected to be tested for Covid-19 on day three and day 12, and they must test negative before they can leave.

Since August, returnees have had to pay $3100 for a room at a managed isolation facility. If another adult wishes to stay in the same room, they are charged $950 and for an extra child (3-17 years old) it’s $475. There is no charge for children under the age of 3.

People who have been granted exemption, for example to get medical treatment in New Zealand or who are refugees, may not be charged.

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