'Technical issue' behind MIQ calendar showing spots fully booked out for December

A "technical issue" is behind a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) booking calendar that mistakenly showed spots are fully booked out in the lead-up to Christmas.

New Zealand's MIQ Allocation System, which has already come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks due to fierce competition for spaces, appeared to suggest the entire month of December had been reserved already.

Each of the dates in December had been crossed out, much like they had for all preceding months - though more rooms will be released for September, October and November.

'Technical issue' behind MIQ calendar showing spots fully booked out for December
Photo credit: Supplied

One frustrated member of the public told Newshub they suspected it was part of a policy to block out all available dates to start with and only release vouchers to those who contact MIQ for an exemption.

However a MIQ spokesperson told Newshub the calendar showing December was already booked out was a "technical issue which we are working to resolve".

"Vouchers for December have not yet been released. They will be released once airlines have confirmed their schedules," they said.

It appears the month of December has now been removed from the MIQ calendar completely.

The booking system has come under intense scrutiny over the last month. While it's successfully processed more than 150,000 returning Kiwis, it's now struggling to keep up with demand.

And there are concerns bots are now gaming the system and people are booking on others' behalf in exchange for money.

However Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and joint head of MIQ, Megan Main, are adamant bots don't make bookings and that automated software refreshers still need an individual to be there to finalise it. 

"Our terms of use require a user to not share their log-in details with anyone else so it's the user who's not complying with the terms of use and where we identify these we do stop them - we do block them from using the site," Main said last Wednesday. 

"We're constantly making changes to make the system as equitable as possible and this week we're making a change so that each time you refresh the page you don't need to refill your details for that booking."

Dr Andrew Chen of the Centre for Informed Futures, an independent think-tank and research centre founded at Auckland University, says the ultimate solution is to create more MIQ facilities.

But Main says the operation is already large and expanding it would increase the potential risk of COVID-19 spreading into the public.