Defence Force presence at isolation facilities to double to 72; Officials brought in to do a review and will report back next week

Defence Force presence at isolation facilities to double to 72; Officials brought in to do a review and will report back next week
Ashley Bloomfield. Getty Images.

A flood of stories has appeared of COVID-19 managed isolation/quarantine processes not being followed.

Here's a quick summary of what the Government is changing:

  • Total number of Defence Force staff onsite across all 18 facilities to double from 36 to 72. Additional staff will help ensure people are separated, assist with security and the check-in process, provide information and be an “additional layer of assurance”.
  • Police presence onsite to increase.
  • Oversight of facilities being centralised:
    • Housing Minister Megan Woods to oversee shift of management of facilities from the emergency response all-of-government taskforce to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. This will happen by October 1 and is an acknowledgement we will have these facilities for some time. Also an acknowledgement MBIE is better placed than the Ministry of Health to deal with logistics. 
    • Assistant Chief of Defence Air Commodore Darryn Webb to oversee all aspects of isolation/quarantine. Previously he led operations and logistics, now he’s also taking care of the health side of isolation/quarantine. He will oversee testing, the enforcement of the rules, ensure there’s enough protective equipment, and set up new facilities. Webb will continue to report to the former police commissioner Mike Bush.
  • Three representatives from the Navy, Department of Corrections and Police doing review of isolation/quarantine and will report back to Webb next week.
  • Facilities that host overseas arrivals will no longer be able to host private functions.

How the facilities have been operating:

  • About 15 staff at each facility at any one time, including those taking care of security/logistics (Defence, Police, aviation security), as well as health.
  • 576 staff across 15 Auckland facilities, 42 at the two Christchurch facilities and eight at the one Wellington facility.
  • More than 20,000 people have gone through managed isolation/quarantine to date.
  • The cost of this is being covered by the taxpayer and totals $81 million. People, like the Avatar crew, let through the border for economic reasons cover their own accommodation and food costs.
  • Unknown how many people have left isolation without being tested under Level 1.

Looking ahead:

  • Work is underway to scale up the number of facilities available, as the number of arrivals is expected to increase. Government is considering proximity to hospitals when securing facilities - many of which are in central city locations.
  • Webb is working  with the Ministry of Transport around policy settings to ensure there aren’t more arrivals than can be accommodated for.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.



Does anyone feel any degree of comfort they have put Megan Woods in charge of oversighting this?

Its almost as if Jacinda is advertising just how thin the Labour ranks are.

Well she is doing a great job of turning Kiwibuild around. NOT!

Why do you say that?

Wouldn't have been my pick. Logically, I'd have thought Ron Mark, Defence Minister. NZ First are the ones that want boarder controls relaxed, particularly where Aus is concerned, so they have every motivation to get this one right in order for that to happen.

Two words for that - Stephen Joyce

Dead cat dounce.

What's the specific issue with Megan Woods? She seems like a safe pair of hands. (and don't say that your major issue is that she's overweight, because that all that the gormless prats on kiwi blog could come up with).

I'm not impressed by her, and she's my electorate MP.

Her response to the electricity review was basically that over the last 5 years there's been no problen with residential electricity prices. But if you look over 15 years, residential prices have zoomed ahead, while commercial have increased a little and industrial have stayed flat or fallen.

It looked exactly like regulatory capture and someone who doesn't actually understand the industry they're supposed to oversee.


Talk & give away money? Tick.
Do anything? Fail.

Andy Boreham, a NZer, compares COVID border control between NZ and China

She'll be alright attitude through out in NZ.

Haha mate.... Just refrain from posting propaganda owned and pushed by CCP run publications. Yawn.

Xing, whats the go with these cyberattacks on Aussie... Are you at war with them?

Easy to do in a country that doesn't care about human rights.

Elimination of Covid19 will be as difficult as stamping out common cold.
We just have to learn to live with it, slowly grow herd immunity and embrace a certain level of infection and deaths as the body of human beings are designed to fail at some point, sooner or later.


Terrible idea. Even for the survivors, it can be a debilitating disease. Comparisons with the common cold are laughable.

The vast majority of people who get it don't even know they're sick. Some people only find out they've had it because they get "covid toes" upon recovery. Sure it's a nasty virus, worse than the flu, but it's not bad like Ebola. NZ is engineering a fragile isolationist system that's likely to fail, but guaranteed to maximize economic damage.

"Slowly grow herd immunity". Are you serious? You don't get designer infection rates, ok? Please listen to people who know what they are talking about, best person to start with is Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

Well to be fair, managed infection with weak dose of the virus is a potential route that could be taken, provided that such infection did grant a decent level of immunity and efforts at creating a vaccine fail.

The point would be to select people with strong immune systems, administer weak and known doses of the virus, have the infected people isolated and only infect as many people at any time as can be handled by the health system.

I doubt this strategy will need to be used for COVID-19, but it is a technique that was used in the past for various illnesses.

Great idea Newbie. I volunteer you as the person to spearhead herd immunity in NZ by catching it.

Ash, doing his best.
Best start showing a few diagrams/slides, show the workflow.
By describing "new and "improved" process in conversation only, suggests these are not well documented, and worryingly not well measured or reviewed for quality.

The couple showed no symptoms and returned a positive result after being tested on day 12 of isolation.

1) Covid19 test at the international flight origin before boarding flight(s) to NZ - the 3 recent covid19+ arrivals show how difficult the contact tracing is
2) Mandatory masks on planes -
3) All airport staff to wear masks & gloves
4) All pilots & crew to be quarantined. There are plenty of unemployed pilots & aircrew
5) All quarantine hotels to be separate a) symptomatic hotels & b) symptom free c) other hotels
6) International flights can use CHC, AKL, ZQN, DUD, WLG, IVC to spread the hotel load
6) Mandatory Covid 19 tests on arrival, day 6 & day 12
7) No one leaves quarantine until day 14
8) Tighten up seaport borders to similar standards -
9) Mandatory isolation until a test result if you are a contact through track & trace
10) Separate Covid19 wards/hospitals totally isolated from other facilities and with full PPE

you are right with test test test, they found two today just about to be released that showed no symptoms, and they are relying to much on temp checks and questions.
now they have to quarantine a whole bunch of people and test them and they have 12 days to track back
what is so hard with testing when they come off the plane, if within 24 hours you know they are all negative off that plane it makes it easier to monitor, then you test after 6 days again if negative all good if not (and this is the one that is most likely if the caught on the way here) you know who they have come in contact with, which if quarantine is running well will be less than 10 people whom were wearing PPE, and last test 12 days and if you pass three negative tests its 99.99999% you dont have it
this testing after 3 and 12 days is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff

Here are some more cases today, that could have/should have be found early last week.

Example of the air force parachute mix up. It was no mix up.

Stuff now describes......
This week's crisis at the border has forced a shake-up of managed isolation facilities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Air Commodore Darryn Webb had been promoted to oversee the running of the facilities.

Compared to last week reporting was ......
New Zealand's quarantine and isolation facilities are now under the Defence Force's watch.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced that Air Commodore Darryn (Digby) Webb had been called in to oversee the mandatory quarantine.

Are Stuff still being proof read by PMs Department?

Here is tomorrow's case today.

That brings the total number of current cases in the country to eight, with Ministry of Health officially announcing another two new cases today.

Former RNZ reporter Alexa Cook who arrived in the country from the UK on 13 June, said they were rung on their hotel room's phone by a member of the Defence Force around 8.30pm this evening, and told to stay in their rooms until receiving further instructions.

Funny how they started finding cases once they started testing properly, which they assured us they were doing all along.