Coronavirus: Two dozen people without MIQ vouchers turned away from flights

Two months after bookings for managed isolation (MIQ) became mandatory, 24 people have been turned away from flights.

Since November 3, travellers heading to New Zealand have been required to present a voucher - formally known as the Managed Isolation Allocation System (MIAS) - for an MIQ facility before checking in. So far more than 96,000 people have successfully been through MIQ.

A spokesperson for MIQ said an extensive awareness campaign began in September, and airlines have also been telling passengers about the requirements. 

The voucher system began on October 5, with a month-long grace period before becoming mandatory on November 3. Some people are exempt, including those arriving from Antarctica, transiting through New Zealand and staying airside, Defence Force personnel, diplomats and people given special exemptions by the Director-General of Health or Minister of Health.

"Managed isolation and quarantine is aware of 24 travellers who have been turned away from their flights since MIAS became mandatory," a spokesperson told Newshub. 

There are about 4500 rooms in hotels in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch being used for MIQ. Spaces in them are "extremely limited" until March, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said last week.

There have been numerous anecdotal reports on social media of overseas Kiwis spending hours refreshing the registration page, hoping to get lucky. Some have resorted to using software to automatically search and book vouchers as they become available

The number of positive COVID-19 cases being picked up in MIQ has been increasing, a sign of just how quickly the virus is spreading overseas. The rate of positive cases is about double what it was in October.