The Government is deploying around 500 further defence force personnel into managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and at the maritime border in a bid to bolster Covid-19 security measures.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the boost during a press conference today, and said it is a plan the Minister in charge of managed isolation, Megan Woods, had been working on for “some time now”.
The deployment of around 500 extra New Zealand Defence Force personnel will bring the total to about 990 such staff at New Zealand’s managed isolation facilities.
It also takes the overall number of defence force staff supporting the Covid-19 response to around 1200.
Ms Ardern said the boost aims to reduce the Government’s reliance on private security contractors.
“Our intention is to stop using private security contractors particularly in the riskiest places - such as entry and exit points and public areas and replace them with Defence Force staff.”
She said it will “raise accountability and give more central control over procedures”.
There are currently 32 managed isolation and quarantine facilities in New Zealand.
The number of NZDF personnel in each managed isolation and quarantine facility will increase from around four to 19, and also see around 80 extra personnel stationed at the maritime border to assist Customs.
There will be 30 Defence Force personnel deployed to Auckland this Thursday to staff the first two MIQ facilities, according to Ms Woods.
Each week after that 75 people will be provided until each isolation or quarantine facility is staffed by an additional complement of 15 NZDF staff.