Uber Eats and supervised walks: A glimpse into Covid-19 quarantine for Kiwis returning home

When Annabella Garwood landed in New Zealand last week she was greeted not by family or friends but government officials waiting to take her to a secure quarantine facility.

Annabella Garwood on her way back to New Zealand after 65 days in Italy's lockdown. Source: Supplied

Ms Garwood, a New Zealander who's worked as a journalist, had just arrived from Italy, a nation hard hit by Covid-19.

More than 32,000 people in Italy died in a matter of months from Covid-19 and it still has the third highest mortality rate from the virus globally.

Empty airport in Italy. (Photo by Annabella Garwood)

From Auckland Airport Ms Garwood and fellow passengers are loaded onto a bus and taken to a hotel in the suburb of Ellerslie.

“A member from the Ministry of Health gave us a briefing before we were able to enter the hotel,” Ms Garwood told 1 NEWS.

“[We then] line up for a briefing on our time in managed isolation, a health check with a nurse before we could open the door to our hotel room, our home for the next 14 days.”

A nurse asks each person how they are feeling, if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 and then takes their temperature.

Screening of every New Zealander that comes back into the country for Covid-19 is mandatory under Level 2.

Once travellers have landed in the country, they are met by government officials at the gate where they are taken to a managed isolation facility for 14 days as long as they are not symptomatic.

Those who are symptomatic will be tested for Covid-19 and taken to a special quarantine facility for the 14-day period.

The quarantine facilities are in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. For Ms Garwood a hotel in Auckland will be her temporary home during her quarantine stay.

Annabella Garwood's home for 14 days after landing back in New Zealand.

Those returning are informed when they book their flights that they’ll be expected to isolate for 14 days on arrival into New Zealand.

“I received an email from Air New Zealand, informing me that I would be placed in quarantine or managed isolation facilities for 14 days. I also had to fill out a form in Sydney confirming my intended address once I finish my time in isolation,” says Ms Garwood.

Nearly empty plane brings Annabella Garwood home to New Zealand.

These special hotel guests are not allowed out of isolation during their stay but can take a supervised walk in the hotel’s car park.

“Before we are allowed to step outside the hotel entrance, we have to sign out with security by giving our name and room number.

“We’re allowed to book a slot to go on a supervised walk which is roughly a 500-metre loop around the car park.

“There’s security dotted around the car park.”

Meals will be provided for Ms Garwood three times a day and other basic needs are delivered to her room.

“We’re allowed to order Uber Eats or have supermarket shops delivered.”

Empty Sydney Airport. (Photo by Annabella Garwood)

Every morning a nurse visits Ms Garwood's room to take her temperature and ask a couple of questions about her health.

“If we start to feel unwell or think we may have Covid-19 symptoms, we must stay in our room and ring the hotel reception so someone can come and assess us.”

Being in isolation is nothing new for Ms Garwood who spent over two months in lockdown in Italy.

“If I can get through 65 days of quarantine in Italy, I can get through 14 days in managed isolation.”

Empty airport in Italy. (Photo by Annabella Garwood)

After surviving one of the longest Covid-19 lockdowns Ms Garwood made the decision to fly home leaving behind the place she’s called home for a year.

“I decided to leave mid-May because flight prices were reasonable and public spaces would be less crowded. With nearly 72 hours of travelling to get through, I thought it would be best to make the move while it’s easy to social distance.”

Ms Garwood is now planning her trip back home to family.

There are currently 1983 people who are in Auckland manged isolation hotels, 286 in Christchurch, while 120 people are in quarantine facilities in both Auckland and Christchurch.