A move to self-isolation for travellers – rather than stays in MIQ – has been delayed due to concerns about the Omicron variant.
About 1250 rooms in managed isolation for March and April will go on offer at 1pm on Thursday in the first MIQ room release since December 16 – but anyone coming from Australia is already locked out.
A notice on the Managed Isolation website posted on Wednesday night said: “Due to the delay to the opening of the self-isolation pathway from Australia, airlines do not currently have any red flights scheduled from Australia for March or April. For this reason, those travelling from Australia will not be able to participate in tomorrow’s room release.”
Self-isolation for those travellers – rather than a stay in MIQ – had been due to start from the middle of this month, but just before Christmas the government delayed the phased border reopening until the end of February.
An Omicron case, who was out in the community, is not linked to three other Covid-19 cases staying in MIQ at the same time, Chris Hipkins says.
It also cancelled the release of MIQ rooms in the week before Christmas.
As well as pushing out the phased border reopening, stays in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) were increased to 10 days in an effort to keep the new Omicron strain of Covid-19 out of the community for as long as possible.
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* Covid-19: MIQ room release cancelled due to Omicron situation
The Government’s three-step reopening plan initially would have seen double-vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents from Australia bypass MIQ from January 17.
Fully vaccinated citizens and residents from all other countries would have been able to skip MIQ from February 14. The third step would have seen Aotearoa start to open to fully vaccinated foreign nationals from April 13.
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Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said when he announced the changes before Christmas that the Government now aimed to allow double-vaccinated New Zealanders from all countries to skip MIQ from late February.
The MIQ statement on Wednesday said it was working with airlines in relation to schedules and future room releases that will be available for March and April.
The MIQ room release on Thursday will start at 1pm and the lobby will open at noon.