Rotorua hotels used for Covid-19 quarantine
At least two Rotorua hotels are being used to house up to 240 people under Covid-19 quarantine.
SunLive understands the Ibis Hotel on Rangiuru St and the Sudima Hotel on Eruera St are being used to isolate 239 people who were bussed into the city between 10pm and midnight last night.
According to a post on Rotorua MP Todd McClay's Facebook page, the people were met by police, army and health personnel at the hotels located in the Rotorua CBD.
"It’s outrageous the Government has bused newly arrived international passengers into Rotorua under the cover of darkness to quarantine them in the CBD," says Rotorua MP Todd McCLay.
“As many as 239 newly-arrived people are quarantining in two hotels in Rotorua, and the Government didn’t even bother to tell locals that they were moving these people from Auckland to Rotorua.
“Rotorua citizens woke on Sunday morning to learn that these passengers arrived in up to four buses between 10pm and midnight last night and have been given zero assurance about health and safety. There are reports that hotel workers were not even informed that quarantine passengers were arriving."
McCLay says it is not good enough.
"Rotorua people made huge sacrifices, along with the rest of New Zealand, during lockdown. Some have lost jobs, businesses and livelihoods in the process.
“The Government couldn’t even be bothered to show them the courtesy of informing them before turning their hotels into quarantine facilities."
The MP is demanding the the Goverment answer the following questions:
Has every person arriving in Rotorua been tested for Covid-19? Has anyone displayed symptoms and signs of Covid-19? Where have the passengers come from? Will they be confined to these hotels or are they able to exercise as has been reported in Auckland? What precautions have been taken to ensure hotel workers and their families safety? Why wasn’t the Rotorua community informed before busing people here for quarantine? How many other hotels will be used and how many people will be quarantined in Rotorua?
“The public have lost confidence in the shambolic quarantine system. Rotorua needs answers now," says McClay.
The Sudima Hotel on Eruera St.
The Ibis Hotel website says the hotel is currently "temporarily closed".
RNZ report that some travellers returning to New Zealand have been "shocked" by a last minute announcement that their Covid-19 quarantine would be in Rotorua, not Auckland.
Some people transported to Rotorua told RNZ they should have been given more information about where they were going before their journey began.
Connor arrived in Auckland after a 40-hour trip from London, via Doha and Sydney.
He said he and other travellers were expecting to be taken to a hotel in Auckland.
But it was announced about 15 minutes into the bus ride that they were going to Rotorua instead.
"I know a lot of people were shocked, some were in a little panic, but once we settled into the bus ride everybody calmed down and accepted that we were coming to Rotorua."
Connor said people understood that hotels in Auckland were full and they needed to be taken somewhere else for their managed isolation.
A woman on the same flight said people on her bus had initially thought it was a joke when they were told they were going to Rotorua.
"It wasn't until we were out of the Auckland city limit that we understood we were actually going to Rotorua."
She said people should have been told before they got on the bus, so they could use the bathroom or grab water or a snack at the airport.
"It was pretty shocking that we were treated that way and I felt really, really bad for families with small children who were on my flight," she said.
"We felt like we were being kept in the dark and now we don't know if we'll be taken back to Auckland at the end of the quarantine process either."
The woman said some people had already made plans for after the 14-day quarantine period, based on the assumption they would be in Auckland.
Both the woman and Connor said once they arrived at the hotel in Rotorua, the staff had been helpful and things were running smoothly.
Defence force and police personnel are on site.
Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Air Commodore Darryn Webb said 232 people who arrived on three flights from Australia yesterday were bussed to Rotorua from Auckland Airport.
There are now two hotels in Rotorua and 18 hotels in Auckland and Christchurch being used for managed isolation and quarantine.
Webb said people in the hotels in Rotorua would receive more detailed information today and have a chance to seek welfare support and ask questions.
"We do acknowledge that those arriving on this flight had an expectation they were completing their managed isolation in Auckland. However, an increase in arrivals returning to New Zealand has required alternative plans to be put in place," he said.
"We are working to address capacity due to the increase in arrivals, and may look to other regions to help accommodate future arrivals."
People on the bus were able to use a bathrooms in Waharoa and these were cleaned after their stop, Webb said.
Earlier this week, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Auckland hotels were reaching capacity for managed isolation and other options were being looked at.
That included transferring dozens of people to Christchurch.