Tens of thousands of overseas-based Kiwis are again trying to secure bookings in the Government’s latest release of managed isolation spots.
The Government’s virtual lobby opened at 5pm today, with 3800 more rooms being released at 6pm.
By 6.03pm, people were already tweeting about their spot in the queue. One person said they were number 26,700.
Another – Kate Saunders – told the Herald she was number 23,500 in the queue.
“Absolute joke and depressing …” she said of how she was feeling.
Saunders has been trying to get home from Melbourne for the past 19 months.
“So heartbreaking to be separated from family for this long. Where’s the empathy from our leaders,” she said.
The MIQ lottery “is a joke”, said Kamal Katnaur, who has 25,749 people ahead of him in the queue.
“The circus goes on.”
At 6:48pm people received notifications that all rooms for this December release are now gone. There will however be another room release coming soon.
People are angry, with one retired couple telling the Herald it feels like they “don’t have a s*** show in hell of getting home”.
Ashley and Kerry Smith, who are in Western Australia, are logged in on a phone and laptop but each have several thousand other people ahead of them.
“This is the second ‘lotto draw’ we have entered. We could be here for years. This is total bulls*** we have a right to return home when we want to. NZ is our home, not Australia.”
However retiree Tekla Kridle is hopeful she’ll secure a spot.
“We are definitely less than 3000 and it’s just kinda ticking down slowing and hopefully we’ll soon be redirected where we can book a room,” she said.
“Our dilemma at the moment now has turned into flights. We are finding it a really confusing system and some of the dates on the Air NZ travel alert pdf we have been sent don’t actually appear to be correct. We ae just trying to work through that at the moment.”
She believed people who got a room have 48 hours to enter flight detail but that was proving more difficult than they had expected.
She said there appeared to be no flights home from Western Australia after November and the flights listed on a PDF from Air NZ don’t seem to match up with actual dates.
That means they are still unsure if they will get home, even if they can secure a room.
“For us it is still very much up in the air and it’s going to come down to availability of a flights.”
Another person – who said they were number 600 in the queue – said they received a 404 error and were booted from the site.
Tonight’s release saw MIQ spots available for between October and December.
Last week, tens of thousands of Kiwis were left dejected after around 30,000 hopefuls logged on.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon said 12,000 rooms would be released in the next few weeks.
“The reason we stagger those releases is because some people may have urgent needs that only arise say, in October and November and it allows hose people to get equal access if those needs arise a little closer to the time,” she said.
To get into the lobby, people have to have an account at the Managed Isolation Allocation System website and have all their personal – including passport – and flight details handy.
People can only make one booking for themselves or a group) per turn and once the room release starts, everyone in the lobby will be randomly organised into a queue.
A Kiwi man who went to Queensland when the Australian bubble opened in May says he was not hopeful he’ll get a spot but will try again anyway.
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He logged in last Monday at 7.45 and at 9am was allocated 23655 in the queue.
By 10.30am, he’d moved “up to” 19176.
He was frustrated that the Government wasn’t quicker letting people isolate at home and also why it wouldn’t let Kiwis back into the country to self-quarantine from countries or states that currently had no Covid.
Jim and Sue Fernie, of Whangarei, recently flew to Hong Kong to sell their apartment to then come back home again.
Jim said they were 24,500 in last week’s queue and he was horrified to think what number they would get drawn this evening.
However, he said they had little choice as they had been putting off the move for 18 months, hoping things would improve.
“Our flat is sold now, so we had to get up here to sign all the paperwork. Thankfully only a 7-day quarantine here for us, travelling from New Zealand, low-risk and fully vaccinated.
“So we had to travel, even without an MIQ slot for our return. We will definitely be trying again this evening for a voucher – there’s not much choice. Our lives will effectively be on hold until we’re allowed back in.”
“Frustrating barely covers it.”
He said there seemed little will from the Government to innovate or explore various options about invigorating MIQ.
“One size does not fit all, or needn’t. Fully vaccinated returnees from non-high risk countries could safely quarantine at home, as per this token and tiny pilot scheme.”
Ardern said last week more than 5000 people from 117 countries secured a spot in that round of MIQ.
As for travellers from Australia, the MIQ website states: “Air New Zealand will be adding 31 red flights for December, in addition to the flights in October and November, which means travellers from Australia are now able to book MIQ spots for December.
“Air New Zealand have both red and green flights for December. If you secure an MIQ date in a room release, please make sure you book a red flight via Air NZ. These flights will be labelled as quarantine flights on Air NZ’s website.”
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