More people able to apply for emergency MIQ spaces under newly announced changes

Source: 1News

More people will be able to apply for emergency spots in the country's MIQ facilities, after new changes announced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) today. 

Returnee arrives at managed isolation hotel

An extra 100 spots have been allocated for emergency applicants each fortnight, jumping up to 350 rooms.

MBIE deputy secretary Megan Main says the changes come as part of the Ministry's commitment to keep fine-tuning its procedures. 

"We need to balance each individual application with our critical work to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders and the limited capacity in managed isolation facilities," she said. 

"The changes we're making will mean more people who need to get home will be able to."

They've also widen the requirements for those seeking emergency applications to include terminally ill travellers wanting to return home, people from countries where they're unsafe and Pacific Islands citizens needing urgent medical treatment in New Zealand. 

To date, more than 3000 emergency MIQ applications have been processed but just 1682 have been approved. 

In order for travellers to be eligible for an emergency application, their travel must be critical and considered a "last resort option", according to MBIE. 

"The reality is that while the New Zealand border remains closed, there is finite capacity within the MIQ system to accommodate returning New Zealanders and others with immigration border exemptions," Main said.

"We want to get everyone home that wants to come home. But we need to do this in a safe way." 

Earlier this month, MBIE extended its deadline for emergency applications out from seven days to two weeks out from the applicant's intended travel date.