Defence Force presence at isolation facilities to double to 72; Officials brought in to do a review and will report back next week
19th Jun 20, 3:35pm
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.
- 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.