17 Jul 2020

Covid-19: Managed isolation facilities: Queenstown and Invercargill locations ruled out

5:39 pm on 17 July 2020

The government has ruled out Queenstown and Invercargill as locations for managed isolation facilities.

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Air Commodore Darryn Webb and Minister Megan Woods. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Speaking to media a short time ago, the minister responsible for managed isolation facilities and quarantine, Megan Woods, confirmed after visits to those towns yesterday it has been decided they are inappropriate for isolation facilities.

Woods says they are still assessing whether New Zealanders returning from overseas can complete their two-weeks managed isolation in Dunedin.

The Minister and Air Commodore Darryn Webb have been visiting Dunedin today.

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult, who opposed hosting managed isolation in Queenstown, said the right decision has been made.

"I think that's a sensible decision. We had expressed our concerns that we don't have the medical facilities to cope with any sort of Covid-19 outbreak in the area," Boult said.

"So I think the minister's decision recognises the sensibility of not isolating folks in Queenstown and we're very pleased with that."

The Southern District Health Board had made it clear it would prefer if Queenstown wasn't used for quarantine facilities.

Chief executive Chris Fleming said Queenstown was lacking in health services, such as mental health or addiction, that some returning people might need access to.

"We've had work under way for the last couple of weeks knowing with the uncertainties of volumes and numbers ,that we might be called upon at any stage," he said.

Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins agreed that Dunedin has to play its part.

"I'm confident that Dunedin as a city, as a community, would be supportive of looking after people and playing our part and looking after them, in the same way that the city's pushed to become a resettlement location for former refugees was community led," he said.

"Our community put their hands up and said we want to help and I don't see why that attitude would be any different when it comes to looking after returning New Zealanders here."

There are managed isolation facilities in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch.

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