Covid-19: a person fills the Grand Mercure MIQ hotel in Wellington
Ross Giblin / Stuff
The Grand Mercure Hotel in Wellington, which acts as a managed isolation center.
Last week, just one guest stayed at the isolation hotel run by the Grand Mercure in Wellington, where dozens of staff worked.
It is understood that the person arrived in a private plane following a family issue in New Zealand.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Managed Isolation and Quarantine confirmed that the 102-room hotel only received one guest between October 21 and 28.
This meant that 88 isolation rooms were empty during that time, as well as 13 quarantine rooms.
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Up to 50 employees were still working at the facility during this time, looking after the single guest.
“Other guests did not stay at this property to maintain the cohort system between incoming and outgoing guests,” the statement said.
“The last cohort of 65 returnees left on October 21. The next cohort of 105 returnees [was] due to arrive at establishment [on] October 28.
The cohort system meant people who arrived at the same time, usually on the same plane, were isolated together at one of the isolation centers run across the country.
According to the MIQ website, the cohort cycle can take 18 to 20 days, after which hotels remain empty for up to two days as they are thoroughly cleaned.
Up to 15 percent of rooms had to be left empty because of the cohort system.
It was not clear if the only guest was classified as their own cohort.
Asked about staffing while a guest was staying at the hotel, the MIQ spokesperson said: “During quieter times, the on-site health team works remotely to support their fellow nurses in Auckland “.
National Covid-19 Party response spokesperson Chris Bishop said the situation was “extraordinary”.
“This is a huge slap in the face for the thousands of New Zealanders off the coast who are desperate to return home but cannot secure a spot in the MIQ lottery,” Bishop said.
“I think people are going to look at it and say this guy had a hotel all to himself, with all the staff that goes with it. Having a 100 room hotel all to himself would be funny if it wasn’t. such a serious matter for the offshore Kiwis who try to return to their country of birth.
Bishop said the guest himself was not responsible for the situation.
“No one blames the individual. He’s just arrived in New Zealand, and he’s been placed there by the system. The problem is the system.
“It’s just ridiculous having a hotel for one person, and you really have to wonder how it happened.”
Bishop said he supported the cohort system, but having a large number of empty rooms was not enough.
“The cohort is a good idea because it minimizes the risk of MIQ from MIQ transmission of Covid, but having a hotel booked for one person is absolutely ridiculous. This is not the way the system should work.
Wellington’s Great Mercury had just returned to full capacity.
From May to October, only half of the premises were in use while maintenance work was being carried out on the ventilation system.
Special air filtration systems have now been installed in many of the hotel’s rooms, especially the quarantine rooms, including high-efficiency particle-absorbing filters, or HEPA, in common areas.