Planning for managed segregation comes under fire after figures show more than 1,000 empty spaces remain – while returning New Zealanders and separated families say they are told there are no room at the hostel.
As of Tuesday of this week, there were 1,067 vacant spaces in managed segregation.
In the last fortnight, the lowest number of vacancies in one day was 497. The following week, vacancies projected based on ticket sales and reserved vouchers did not fall below 600.
There are a total of 6,261 isolation places managed and 1,014 other rooms are used for quarantine, emergencies, deportees, sailors and flight personnel. The average occupancy over the next fortnight is 5,190.
New Zealand Initiative think tank chairman Roger Partridge said the vacancies were shameful as so many demanded places, including New Zealanders returning for a family Christmas.
“I have a feeling that government officials are more interested in being ‘in control’ than meeting the needs of New Zealand families, businesses and workers. This will have long-term negative effects on jobs and the economy. well-being, ”Partridge said.
“Regardless of the human tragedy behind empty beds, comments from the business community are projects down, critical roles left vacant, and business activity suffers.”
He asked if officials were held accountable for unused capacity.
Again this week, the Minister of Immigration cited the constraints of managed isolation (MIQ) as the reason for the narrow border exemptions.
Hutt Valley High School teacher Cameron Conradie is separated from wife Tanya – also a teacher – and son Aidan, 13, as they are still in South Africa and their visas are not processed while the border is closed .
He used his skills as a math teacher to analyze MIQ statistics.
“Each vacancy represents a humanitarian tragedy for separated families and those separated from their jobs and their property,” said Conradie.
“Facilities should be used at their designed capacity to achieve maximum efficiency,” he said.
“If we have to wait until the border opens and the visa processing for offshore applicants resumes so that we even know if my family will ever be allowed into New Zealand, the personal costs and mental strain may well be. too high.
“If we are not able to be reunited in New Zealand soon, there are only two options: to continue living as a separate family unit, separate oceans for an indefinite period of time at a high cost on the plane. financially and for our relationships and family ties Or give up settling in New Zealand and try to salvage the pieces of our damaged lives in South Africa.
“It means New Zealand will lose the service of two experienced teachers who have made every commitment possible. It also means our sacrifices will have been in vain.”
When asked how many people did not use their MIQ vouchers, MBIE said in a written response that he did not collect this figure, but felt it was not significant given that the number of arrivals remain high.
People who find that they do not need to use their MIQ vouchers due to a change in travel plans should return them by canceling their reservation on the MIAS website so that they can be used by others, said MBIE.
MBIE said it has migrated to a new data platform that will allow it to better forecast arrivals and manage the flow of returns.
He said the figure of 600 vacant places did not accurately reflect what is happening in the isolation facilities.
MBIE said its room capacity is 4,500 – which translates to 6,261 people – but the number of places available for individuals will vary depending on factors such as whether families or groups are secluding themselves together (which means that more rooms are available) and how long a person stays. which will vary depending on their time of arrival (for example, an arrival at 1 a.m. versus 11 p.m.).
More people means less capacity, he says.
“This means we can operate close to our venue capacity, but it looks like we have space available depending on the number of people.”