COVID-19: Auckland Airbnb host concerned about Canadian Navy crew skipping MIQ

A Canadian Naval frigate is en route to New Zealand and as long as the fully-vaccinated crew have negative tests, they can walk right off the ship into central Auckland.

The 250-strong crew of the HMCS Calgary have been given special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to skip our normal strict 14-days managed isolation (MIQ). 

One of the crew has booked a stay at an Airbnb in Auckland CBD, and the host - Edreen Sheath - told Newshub she is not happy about it. 

"I just don't think it's okay to have Canadian sailors leaving their vessel and mingling amongst people in Auckland, on the ferries, in restaurants and so on," she told Newshub. 

It would seem to go against the Government's COVID-19 laws that everyone coming into the country, whether through the airport or the maritime border, must spend 14 days in MIQ. 

But the HMCS Calgary isn't breaking the rules. The frigate has been given diplomatic clearance from MFAT to join the New Zealand Navy for some sport and culture programmes.

After Newshub made enquiries about the ship, the New Zealand Defence Force released details of the visit.

It said the ship will comply with the Maritime Border Order, as their 17 days at sea counts as isolation, and everyone leaving the Calgary will need a negative test.

"Ship visits like this are a practical representation of the strong working relationship the New Zealand Defence Force has with the Canadian armed forces," said Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor.

HMCS Calgary.
HMCS Calgary. Photo credit: NZ Defence Force

"They are also a demonstration of New Zealand and Canada's active engagement and presence in the Pacific."

The Government approved the recommencement of foreign military ship visits to New Zealand following the absence of such activities over the last year, provided all visits comply with New Zealand's health and border requirements, the statement says. 

Edreen is still concerned.

"I am worried about the risk," she told Newshub. "And I just don't think it's fair to every other person wanting to come to New Zealand at the moment."

The ship is coming from Australia where they've been doing exercises - but they didn't dock. 

The sailors aren't the only one's hoping to float into Aotearoa. Edreen has also had a booking from a cruise ship passenger supposedly arriving in March. And she's stuck with the bookings.

"An Airbnb host is very much punished for cancelling a booking," she says. 

But COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is not so sure Edreen will have to host the cruise-goers.

"I wouldn't make any commitments around that at this point," he said at a press conference on Wednesday, when asked if there was any opportunity for those holidays to go ahead.