Coronavirus: Frontline workers finding alternative accommodation to protect their families from COVID-19

New Zealand's frontline essential workers are making major sacrifices to keep their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many workers are moving into temporary accommodation as they are scared about possibly transferring the virus on to those who are the most vulnerable.

Security guard Colleen Corbett moved out of her home the day before the lockdown was implemented to protect her mother, who has a heart condition, from COVID-19.

She is now staying in a cold, leaky garage and she's finding it tough.

"I miss my family. I don't hang out with them as much as I used to," she says.

"I just want to give my mum a hug and a kiss and go back to normal."

Kerri Nuku from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation says some nurses are also going to extreme lengths if they need to isolate.

"People were having makeshift rooms being made in garages, tents were being put up, caravans moved on-site," she says.

Some organisations are trying to give their employees alternative accommodation so they don't have to resort to makeshift living facilities.

District Health Boards in the northern region say they have alternative accommodation for workers, and Southern and Canterbury DHBs are also offering up staff accommodation.

The Wellington Free Ambulance has two hotels ready - one in Wairarapa and the other in Wellington.

Mike Grant from the Free Ambulance says despite extensive steps to mitigate risk, it's come in handy for staff worried about exposing their bubbles. 

"We've provided accommodation for staff who have compromised family members and that was early on."

The Police have also provided alternative living arrangements, and as of last week 23 people had taken up the offer.

Police Association President Chris Cahill says: "Having that backstop of being able to go somewhere rather than put their family at risk has been very reassuring".

But for now, those living physically apart from their loved ones are looking forward to moving home once the pandemic ends.