The Inside Word: New Zealand Quarantine
There are a fair few misconceptions about conditions within New Zealand’s Quarantine Hotels. Madeline Grant’s misplaced accusations being one prominent example, though she is not alone.
Today, I thought I’d share the inside word, so to speak. A friend of mine has recently returned to New Zealand from overseas, and has kindly offered to publicly share their experience for posterity and general edification.
Note that since they are returning for the medium-to-long term, they are not getting charged for this stay. The New Zealand taxpayer pays instead.
Anyway, they were allocated a facility – in this case, a fancy Auckland Hotel:
On arrival at the facility, the military (who guard the facility, to prevent escapes) remove your luggage, and you are allocated a room. It’s a 4 metre x 5 metre room, with an en suite… and there you stay for a fortnight. Your body temperature measurement is taken daily by a well-protected nurse, who points the testing equipment at you from the doorway. The nurse does not enter the room. No-one enters the room. On the third day, you get the initial COVID test – technically optional, though if you refuse, you get to stay twenty-eight days, and are not permitted to leave the room at all.
Once you have tested negative on that third day, you can (temporarily) venture outside your room. You must wear one of the provided masks when doing so, and cannot wear a home-made one. Venturing outside the room consists of up to an hour on the Hotel Terrace, or being taken for an outside walk by the military (who ensure you can’t interact with outsiders). You are required to stay a minimum of two metres away from everyone else when taking air.
You place your food orders in advance, from a designated menu. Breakfast (8 am – 9 am), Lunch (12 pm – 1 pm) and Dinner (6 pm – 7 pm) is left at your room door for you to collect. You are, of course, required to wear a mask when collecting the meal. Drinks – including alcohol – are available, but must be paid for.
You are provided with dish-washing liquid to clean up afterwards. At levels 1 and 2, you are able to receive extra bought food (takeaways) from friends and family – but not home-made food. At levels 3 and 4, you can’t receive extra bought food at all. Small wonder Auckland preferred level 2.5 over level 3…
People can (and do) work online from Quarantine, while entertainment is television, internet, and whichever reading material you brought with you. Oh, and they also have online quizzes, sudoku, and some such.
Prior to being let out after the fortnight stay, you get another formal COVID test. If you pass that… congratulations, you can now leave the facility, presumably making off with the little sachets of salt and pepper they give you.
So yes. Everything you ever needed to know about New Zealand Quarantine conditions. Given the extensive security arrangements required, it really goes without saying that combining Quarantine with a re-opened border would be the mother of all financial and logistical headaches.