COVID-19: Government was advised in November 2021 there was no longer 'any' justification for MIQ

An internal memo from the Ministry of Health has revealed there was no longer "any" health justification for MIQ way back in November 2021. 

It means stranded Kiwis could have come home for Christmas instead of applying for a spot in state-run managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ). 

Why has this only come out now? The short answer is the Ministry of Health didn't want this advice out in public. They tried to keep it secret, refusing to release it until their hand was forced by the Ombudsman. 

The memo, dated November 12 last year, was written by Dr Caroline McElnay, the former Director of Public Health. She was Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield's previous offsider. 

The memo expressly says that, way back in November, the risk posed by international arrivals transmitting COVID-19 was no longer higher than the risk of domestic transmission. 

The extra damning thing is that, looking at the full context of the Delta outbreak at the time, there were vaccine requirements for international arrivals and we had 80 percent of the population double vaccinated. 

There was ongoing transmission in Auckland and health officials agreed that right then MIQ was no longer justified. 

But MIQ remained in place over Christmas for another three months before the Government's actions matched its public health advice. 

And all that time, Kiwis fought a cruel lottery for a chance to come home. 

ACT leader David Seymour says the Government must apologise to Kiwis who were stranded overseas.

"The Government owes all those who were stuck in limbo overseas an apology. They were the victims of a costly and cruel policy that wasn't even doing any good."