Government looking at using campervans for managed isolation as Auckland hotels fill up

The Government is "actively looking" at using campervans for managed isolation as Auckland hotels fill up with New Zealand citizens returning from overseas.

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Dr Ashley Bloomfield said campervans worked well when isolating travellers at the start of the pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Ashley Bloomfield said campervans worked well when isolating travellers at the start of the pandemic back in February.

He was asked if the Whangaparoa military base in Auckland would once again be used, as it had when Kiwis returned on repatriation flights from Wuhan, China.

"It was raised in discussion, but I don't think that's the issue, we are more looking at whether we can use campervans again, because they worked very well when we did that first flight out of Wuhan.

"Campervans could be a very useful way to stand up additional capacity and these issues are under active discussion in Government," Dr Bloomfield said at today's press conference.

His comments come as yesterday the new overseer of Covid-19 isolation facilities Megan Woods says she’s not ruling out adding more of the facilities in the regions as Auckland’s hotels hit capacity.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the recently-named head of managed isolation and quarantine, said 232 people who arrived on three flights from Australia on Saturday would be completing their 14-day managed isolation in Rotorua instead of Auckland.

“Capacity has been reached in Auckland [managed isolation facilities],” he said.

There are now 20 managed isolation and quarantine facilities around the country as two hotels in Rotorua were activated by the Government this weekend for the purpose.

The other 18 facilities are spread across hotels in Auckland and Christchurch.

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The proposed Stamford Plaza quarantine upset permanent residents there. Source: 1 NEWS

"We do acknowledge that those arriving on this flight had an expectation they were completing their managed isolation in Auckland,” Mr Webb said.

“However, an increase in arrivals returning to New Zealand has required alternative plans to be put in place.

"We are working to address capacity due to the increase in arrivals, and may look to other regions to help accommodate future arrivals."

Ms Woods said the new quarantine facilities introduced aimed to keep the wider public safe.

She said as more Kiwis returned home, “we need to do more to bring on additional hotel capacity”.

“I’ve seen some commentary to the effect that people don’t want these returning New Zealanders in their town,” she said.

“I want to stress, these people are New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. There is no legal basis to prevent them from returning home nor would we.

“I know there has been a lot of anxiety felt in the last week, I understand that.”

Meanwhile, National MP for Rotorua Todd McClay wanted answers.

“The Government didn’t even bother to tell locals that they were moving these people from Auckland to Rotorua,” he said.

“Rotorua citizens woke on Sunday morning to learn that these passengers arrived in up to four buses between 10pm and midnight last night and have been given zero assurance about health and safety.”

He asked for assurances from the Government about whether it had tested the people arriving in Rotorua for Covid-19, the steps being taken to keep hotel workers safe and whether new arrivals would be confined in the facilities or be able to go out for exercise.

“The public have lost confidence in the shambolic quarantine system. Rotorua needs answers now.”