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New documents show that although desperate travellers fear bots are stealing their places in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) — and the Government points to growing demand — a dwindling supply of rooms is aggravating the situation.
The Government has taken a larger allocation of the available MIQ spaces, increasing to 500 from 300 places a fortnight that it takes for its own projects and policies this year.
Although the names of those famous MIQ-wranglers the Wiggles, America’s Cup crews, actors, nannies and tribute bands have been well publicised, more recent events and programmes approved by ministers are less well-known.
On top of these pressures, public health advice on separating returnees is expected to lead to a 15% fall in supply.
Documents obtained by RNZ show overseas participants in a mountain bike festival are the latest group to be approved for places in managed isolation.
The Government has approved 70
foreign athletes and staff who will attend November’s Crankworx event in Rotorua for MIQ places.
Also on the approved list were 60 international competitors, staff and media taking part in the Winter Games starting in Queenstown and Wanaka at the end of this month.
Ministers also booked places for hundreds of international workers to come through managed isolation on their way to Antarctica.
Briefings show how many requests officials are fielding from groups lobbying the government for MIQ spaces, and how ministers are weighing up the competing needs of industry, international relations and sporting events.
Further decisions about group MIQ allocations covering a "pipeline" of events from November to March will also mean more managed isolation spots reserved for athletes — at the busiest time for New Zealanders clamouring to return home.
In a statement, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said it had approved requests for 356 workers related to the Antarctic Programme under the "other critical worker" border exception since June 18 and was processing another 201 received last week.
"There is no cap on the number of workers who may be approved as part of these ‘other critical worker’ requests," INZ general manager of border and visa operations Nicola Hogg said.
"We will continue to process any requests when they are received, in line with the criteria."