Call for MIQ reservation system reform – “The government just doesn’t understand”

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A group of New Zealanders living abroad has launched a petition to reform the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) reservation system, increase capacity and consider alternatives for returnees who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 .

Photo: Alexia Russel

The Grounded Kiwis petition was launched earlier this week and has received over 3,000 signatures to date.

The group claims New Zealanders abroad feel abandoned and the MIQ system is down.

Alexandra Birt, a Kiwi living in London who drafted the petition, said Morning report she wanted to go home to see her family, but many others had their own reasons.

“New Zealanders at home and abroad are really affected by the system right now, and a general essence for those of us overseas is that we cannot go home.

“And for those who are in New Zealand and have an urgent need to go overseas, they can’t do that right now because you just can’t get space in MIQ. is why I created the petition. “

She said a fairer reservation system was needed.

“It looks like a transparent, accessible system that minimizes uncertainty and, ultimately, just a system that allows people to go home.

“It’s a system that can’t be subverted by bots and scripts or third-party payers that we’ve heard a lot about recently in the media; a system that meets accessibility standards, so everyone has a equal chance to book.

“There have been a lot of issues with emergency allowances where people have extremely valid emergency circumstances, but they just can’t get emergency allowances and ultimately it all comes down to a situation where l supply meets demand. “

She said the system needs to be upfront about wait times.

The government and the MBIE were also to examine the science to enable travel options for those who had been vaccinated, Birt said.

“One of the complaints was… on the basis that the current system, as designed, is inaccessible and discriminates against particularly elderly disabled and blind people who cannot complete stages quickly enough to secure a place for people. who rely on screen readers who are just not in the same position as other people who are able to use these kinds of high tech quick fixes. “

The Human Rights Commission received 30 complaints about the online booking portal, including allegations that it discriminates against the elderly, the disabled and the blind.

“I have a feeling the government just doesn’t get it.”

Birt said the government “continues to characterize the situation as analogous to a sporting event, and to me it puzzles me when people try to get home.”

“I had a friend whose mother passed away overnight and she was unable to return home to New Zealand because once someone passes away we no longer meet the emergency criteria to return. .

“So she was separated from her family in this horrible situation, and to make an analogy of trying to get a ticket to a sporting event, it’s just… they don’t get it, and that This is why we are campaigning for change. It is both changing perception and seeking to act. “

MIQ Deputy CEO Megan Main said last month that a fairer system was in the works, but “the reality is that some people will miss it.”

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