MIQ voucher booking system to end, decommissioning of facilities underway

Published: 24 March 2022

With New Zealand now reopening to the world and MIQ winding down, the MIQ voucher booking system is being decommissioned, says Head of MIQ Chris Bunny.

“This is a natural next step in the scaling back of our operations. With fewer people now needing to come into MIQ, the voucher booking system just isn’t needed anymore,” he said.

“Most travellers entering New Zealand will be able to self-test on arrival. MIQ will only be used in limited circumstances, — for example, for some maritime and international air crew. In those circumstances, the voucher booking system will no longer be necessary,” he said

“Without vouchers we also no longer need a system for emergency allocations of vouchers or time sensitive travel allocations, so those systems are being decommissioned too. From Friday 25 March 2022, MBIE will no longer accept any new emergency allocation or time sensitive travel applications.

At its height, the equivalent of Kaiapoi’s population passed through managed isolation each month: 12,600 people in 9000 rooms every 28 days. Mr Bunny says MIQ played a critical role — preventing Covid becoming widespread through communities while giving people a way to return home.

“By March 2022, the MIQ workforce had helped almost 230,000 travellers — more than the population of Wellington — return home and gave New Zealanders time to get vaccinated so the country could confidently face COVID-19.

“I know that meant it became a hard — at times frustrating — process for people wanting to return to New Zealand, caught between MIQ’s finite capacity and the measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering an unprotected community. It did take a toll on people’s lives — it wasn’t always popular. MIQ meant not everyone could come home when they wanted to. But it also meant that Covid could not come in when it wanted to, either.

“We’re entering the next phase of our evolution now which is good news for New Zealand, it takes us one step closer to international travel starting back up”.

The following travellers are now no longer required to enter MIQ when they arrive in New Zealand:

  • unvaccinated New Zealand citizens
  • non-New Zealand citizens who meet the vaccination requirements to enter New Zealand, unless they are exempt.

Find out more about entering New Zealand if you are self-testing on arrival(external link) — Unite against COVID-19

Progress on decommissioning facilities

We have commenced with the decommissioning of 22 of our 32 facilities.

MIQ will now taper the remaining 10 facilities to four by the end of June 2022. These facilities currently accommodate special use groups (Afghanistan arrivals, refugees, mariners, air crew) who are no longer required to enter MIQ. If necessary, these groups could be accommodated across the four facilities remaining past June (3 based in Auckland and 1 in Christchurch).

These are the only MIQ facilities remaining in Hamilton, Rotorua, and Wellington. Deactivating them by the end of May allows MIQ to continue to support community cases across our five regions for the time being. It also ensures that hotels have one ‘empty’ month to prepare for re-entering the market. Deactivating these facilities in this way makes the best use of our network.

This is a significant change, and our priority will continue to be to support staff over the coming weeks throughout this transition period. We know this is an unsettling time for our workers and will do everything possible to ensure they are well looked after and treated fairly.

We are working to identify opportunities for them and providing training resources — we want to make the transition as smooth as possible, and retain talent, as our hardworking staff have proven themselves to be incredible during these stressful times and deserve reassurance that they will be looked after.