8 Sep 2021

Covid-19 Minister details reopening of Crowne Plaza quarantine

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 8 September 2021

The arrival of hundreds of seasonal workers from other countries and dozens of fishery workers has been deferred, to make more space in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

By the end of September, the total number of MIQ rooms allocated is predicted to exceed operational capacity.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Checkpoint he could not rule out sport and other group booking applications being declined to free up rooms in the future.

He said over the next few weeks there did not appear to be any large bookings that fit into that category.

"If there was a massive surge in community cases that we needed to deal with, that would put the system under even further strain."

He said if case numbers continued to fall, the government would "comfortably but with pressure accommodate all of the commitments that we've got for our MIQ facilities".

"We've deferred some RSE workers who were due to be coming in and we have been looking at group bookings and the latest I've heard is that a group of fisher people who were due to come and have also been deferred and so that frees up some more space."

There were several hundred RSE workers and about 40 to 50 fishermen, he said.

Crowne Plaza reopens as MIQ hotel

He said the Crowne Plaza in Auckland - which reopens tomorrow - was safe to open up to both community close contacts and recent overseas arrivals.

"The reason that the Crowne Plaza has been brought back on board is, yes we do need it as part of our overall network. We're confident based on a huge number of different reviews that it's safe to do that now."

The source of the current community outbreak is still a mystery after an investigation found the chance of transmission occurring through the public atrium of the Crowne Plaza was very small.

Audits found that ventilation procedures at the Crowne Plaza meet the relevant standards.

Hipkins said it would be possible to split close contacts and returnees into different groups within the MIQ hotel.

There are currently 30 close community contacts isolating in 17 rooms at various MIQ facilities.

In terms of the case at Middlemore, Hipkins said work was underway to find links. "My understanding is that there is a link."