Taxpayers to foot bill for Viking Bay mariners' MIQ stay

Kiwi taxpayers are footing the bill for the mariners from the Viking Bay fishing vessel staying in MIQ.

Viking Bay entering Wellington Harbour to dock at Queens Wharf for quarantine. Source: 1 NEWS

Sixteen crew from the Viking Bay have been transferred to an MIQ facility in Wellington after Covid swept through the vessel.

Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Brigadier Rose King said the group were not liable to pay for MIQ, as they entered under Section 4 of the Health Act (Quarantine).

In the same statement, King also said there was no requirement for a contingency plan in case any of the mariners tested positive for Covid-19, after getting off their flight.

It has been confirmed that 13 of them have the Delta variant of the disease, which has closed borders around the world.

At the start of July, nine crew flew into Auckland Airport and after being tested for Covid-19 they were driven five hours south to New Plymouth.

The nine travellers got on the waiting ship, joining eleven others waiting for them, and immediately headed for deep sea fishing in international waters.

It was the ship’s immediate departure, as the reason King gave for the lack of a contingency plan required in case of a positive result.

Act MP Brooke van Velden slammed the Government for the lack of planning, and requirement for one if someone got sick.

“The taxpayer should not be paying for people in MIQ. And I think the issue here is that we don’t have a plan that’s straightforward for when people come through the border.

“There are so many different rules for different people. I think it’s wrong that these sailors were able to come through the border and there was no plan in place for what was supposed to happen if they contracted Covid-19, and what was supposed to happen for the MIQ.”

There was a lack of transparency by the Government for the entire MIQ system and why different groups play to different rules, she said.

The Viking Bay first arrived into Auckland on 6 May from Panama, it then set sail for New Plymouth the following day. Just under two months later the ship went back to Auckland for a night on 1 July, before going back to New Plymouth.

Since maritime transfers started in August last year 608 mariners have transferred directly from an airport to their ship. That is out of a total of 896 mariners who have entered the country since August last year.