Christchurch woman Tekla Kridle is currently in Western Australia, and wants to get home.
A new MIQ ‘’lobby’’ system launches today and there are already concerns that the dedicated site could battle with the demand for New Zealanders wanting to come home.
Thousands of people are expected to log on when the site goes live at 8am.
One of them is Tekla Kridle, who planned to get up at 4am to get her foot in the virtual lobby – and the clock is ticking for Christchurch resident.
Kridle, who spoke to Stuff from just north of Perth, said if she was not back by the end of November she faced the prospect of a financial hit.
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“Our dilemma is if we don’t make it back within 26 weeks we will have to start repaying our super(annuation),” she said.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announces a lift on the pause of MIQ booking and a new system for reserving a room.
That gives her until the end of November to return from a trip she initially expected would have been over by now. She said went to see her daughter, but then got caught in Darwin’s lockdown.
Kridle is well aware others have more pressing dilemmas driving their desire to get back to New Zealand, and it’s one element of the new managed isolation system that troubles her.
“It’s luck of the draw, so anyone who has real hardship could miss out.”She is worried the site will crash under demand.
Whether she secures a place or not, there’s one dilemma Kridle will still have to face, with a daughter in Australia and a son in Christchurch. “My heart will be torn in two.”
Associate Deputy Secretary Managed Isolation and Quarantine Andrew Milne said the lobby system was being tried out in response to “user feedback” and was intended to make booking more transparent and create a more level playing field for people trying to access the booking site.
“MIQ will closely monitor how well the lobby system works and whether any further changes are needed.”
Milne said there were currently 198,010 people registered in system, however this figure did not distinguish between people who had secured a voucher and have already travelled, and people who have not secured a voucher.
That number may also contain duplicate entries, he said.
“It is not possible to accurately determine how many people who are registered in the system are waiting for an MIQ spot.”
Milne said while they weren’t sure what demand would be like when the lobby system launched before the MIQ system was paused, on average there were 17,000-19,000 users on the website each day.
Mike Moore, based in New Zealand, works with the Grounded Kiwis group of New Zealanders overseas who want to come home.
He said he had been managing a lot of the technical issues with the new system and had been working with Kiwis on Facebook and helping them with their questions in navigating the room.
“It is indeed a lottery system, almost game-show like. I suspect it’s going to be very disappointing.”
Moore said the upside of the new system was that it removed the “horrible process” which required people to keep constantly looking at a website.
“But if we just leave aside the process for a minute, I think the primary point is that it’s not addressing the fundamental issue that supply is woefully, woefully short of meeting demand, and that problem doesn’t go away by a different mechanism of allocation. That’s the first problem.”
He said the initial allocation of about 3000 rooms was not much.
“We know the occupation is 4000 per fortnight, and we know a big chunk is offline bookings – groups, business groups, sports groups.
“If we just look at these numbers, we’re going to have one allocation of 3000 rooms spread out over a period until the end of December, it’s like 25 rooms a day on average.
“That means basically 25 people or so a day arriving back to New Zealand, which is pretty small compared to our pre-pandemic average of 18,000 per day. The whole thing seems very rushed.”
The new MIQ lobby homepage is https://allocation.miq.govt.nz/portal/