September 29, 2021 45 new cases of COVID in the community are “alarming” today, including 12 unrelated “mystery” cases. All of today’s cases are from Auckland.
If there was one thing true in Sir John’s criticism of the government’s response to COVID-19, it was his assessment that the MIQ system has become a national embarrassment.
There are failures in the government’s handling of COVID-19 and the MIQ system is one of the ongoing bottlenecks.
MIQ has been largely effective in one of its two primary goals: preventing COVID-19 from entering.
But his second main objective was to let New Zealanders in. The extent to which he is crowding out New Zealand has now reached an unforgivable level.
This falls far short of Jacinda Ardern’s promise that no matter what, New Zealanders can always come back.
MIQ Slots’ latest raffle highlights that in an effort to improve the MIQ reservation system, it has done the opposite. It was also a very bad PR for the government.
The new “virtual lobby” system in which people are randomly selected for places in a room queue, clearly shows how much demand exceeds supply.
Now, for the second round, there have been over 30,000 in this hall – 10 times the number of rooms available. Even when the chambers have been drip fed for the rest of the year, there will still be at least 20,000 left.
The new random queue system was created to replace the old first-in, first-served model. There was concern that people using bots would realize when rooms were going to be empty.
But neither the new nor the old system was sophisticated enough to prioritize those who needed the most or who waited the longest. Emergency allowances are intended for a very limited group of people. For everyone else, the priority sorter is Lady Luck.
Part of the government’s response was to blame people for not coming home sooner – for not coming, like in June of last year, when there were vacancies at MIQ, or for not coming. come back from Australia when the bubble was open, or go overseas altogether.
It is not good enough. The government showed it was able to act quickly when Delta ramped up the rollout of vaccines after the outbreak. But he failed to deliver the same urgency on MIQ.
The delay and uncertainty have an effect on the throughput.
This week, it was retirees abroad who feared they would not be able to return within the 30-week deadline after which their pension would be withheld.
The response of the Department of Social Development borders on ruthless:
“The closure of the travel bubble with Australia, other flight restrictions due to COVID and the difficulty of securing a place in MIQ, were all appropriately planned before departure for anyone who has left Nova Scotia. Zealand over the past 30 weeks. “
The difficulty of securing a spot in MIQ may indeed be “reasonably foreshadowed” – but it shouldn’t be – or at least not beyond the Christmas rush – and no more.
It is a system created by the government and these are the rules established by the government. The system does not allow people to book MIQ rooms months and months in advance, so it is impossible to plan a trip long term.
People have been forced to take their chances by the system itself – they are not to be blamed when the system fails.
It was also “reasonably expected” that MIQ would not meet the required numbers for some time.
The biggest problem with MIQ is the capacity.
The MIQ system was hastily set up as it should. It was a blunt instrument and it was effective too. It was not expected then that it would be needed for so long.
But it has not changed since. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse – and the downstream consequences have been complicated: It’s not just New Zealanders trying to get involved.
This has caused a delay in immigration and severe labor shortages in many areas.
It was forgivable for a while, but it continued and things got down to pressure cooker level.
It can also affect the Prime Minister. She has already talked about traveling to Europe or North America later this year if national conditions allow.
These are much needed trips – he has long been removed from the international stage.
But the anger against the MIQ will now also be politically embarrassing for the Prime Minister.
Ardern highlighted MIQ’s failures by pointing to the number of New Zealanders who have returned since the start of the pandemic.
The problem is not last year, nor those who fired him. It is now, and those who cannot return.
Mostly a government knows the best attitude on MIQ.
And since MIQ on the whole has been effective in keeping COVID-19 out of the community, it lives up to its folly.
Delta’s outbreak has shown that it is not foolproof, but it has also been cited as one of the reasons why such a rigid system is needed.
Others have made proposals but the government is reluctant to consider them.
The National Party came up with a points-based system to assess what people need most. It was barely perceived, it was dismissed as too hard, too much paperwork.
The Party Act’s proposal was that other hotels could offer private MIQs – under conditions required by health authorities – for those willing to pay for it. Proposals have been made for home segregation with strict monitoring and testing arrangements, including house arrest pilots or GPS tracking.
Proposals have been made by companies for employers to run their own isolation programs.
The answer has always been a simple no, rather than trying to work with them to make it work.
Until now, the government and authorities have always been able to invent many excuses to say no: a lack of health and safety personnel generally required for MIQ facilities, or insufficient ventilation or necessary space.
But he didn’t find much energy to work on finding solutions to these problems or refining ideas to make them practical.
There is hope: Ardern’s ‘roadmap’ to reopening borders now speaks of home isolation or shorter isolation periods for vaccinated travelers from truly safe countries. which will take some of the stress out of MIQ.
But it is still unclear when such measures will begin.
In the meantime, he must find a solution that goes beyond the home isolation test for 150 business travelers, and it must be done quickly – or at least give a clear indication that we can no longer depend on MIQ Huh.
Ardern said, explaining why only businessmen were used to test for home isolation, was because they had “skin in the game” so the rules were less likely to try to sneak around. . .
The only businessmen in the game aren’t the skinned ones, Prime Minister. We all do.