9 Dec 2021

Mini-MIQ: What happens if you test positive for Covid-19 while on holiday

5:49 am on 9 December 2021

Locations of mini-MIQs around the country are being kept under wraps as health authorities in the provinces prepare for a deluge of visitors over summer.

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

At the behest of district health boards, some accommodation providers are sectioning off rooms or units for potential Covid-19 cases to isolate.

These mini-MIQs are being set up in places that don't have them already in case people who live there, or are visiting, can't isolate at home.

Napier is up front about where cases in its area will isolate.

Kennedy Park Resort park has 10 rooms for isolation, fenced off from paying guests, for those who catch Covid-19 while on a summer holiday.

The swimming pool and jumping pillow at the holiday park will be off limits to anyone isolating with Covid-19.

Those isolating will not be allowed to leave their room or the dedicated outside space, and security will be in place, Hawke's Bay DHB said.

The holiday park's owner is Napier City Council, and chief executive Stephanie Rotorangi said it would be safety first.

"The rooms that are set aside for self isolating people are well removed from the rest of the facility and you can imagine that they are also fenced off and there are a lot of procedures in place to ensure people can be safe."

Other DHBs are also getting ready to isolate Covid cases. None would divulge locations.

Mid-Central has secured accommodation in Palmerston North, with other facilities in Tararua and Horowhenua, but addresses were not being released to protect the privacy of people who may need to use them.

Rotorangi said if there was a surge in demand, people could be sent to MIQ hotels in Rotorua.

"What would happen in the regions like Hawke's Bay if there was a great demand is that we would also have to rely on Rotorua and the managed isolation facilities there."

So what are the rules for those who want to return home if they test positive for Covid-19 while on holiday?

They will be able to return home to isolate if they or a family member were driving and it was not an overnight trip, the Ministry of Health said.

They would not be allowed to use public transport, fly, or travel between the North and South islands.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said mini-MIQs are unlikely to be as strict as city hotels dedicated to isolating cases.

"We do have this virus now circulating particularly in Auckland. It's a different scenario from when we were operating the elimination approach where we could only tolerate minimal risk of any infection escaping from an MIQ facility. Now I think there will be some changes in the level of precautions applied in these facilities."

He said everyone who was travelling this summer needed to understand what happens if one of their travel-bubble tested positive.

As well as holidaymakers, motel and hotel operators are getting to grips with living with Covid-19.

Hotel Council Aotearoa strategic director James Doolan said the sector had good protocols in place and also needed the business of both government and private customers.

"Good on people getting whatever work they can at the moment because there is not a lot of business around for them to do.

"The industry players are between a rock and a hard place. domestic tourism is not enough to sustain the entire tourism industry."

Those heading away this summer are advised to pack spare masks and their own hand sanitiser.

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