Law prohibits Government from charging managed isolation guests for damage to hotel rooms

Windows, desks and microwaves were destroyed by MIQ guests.
Windows, desks and microwaves were destroyed by MIQ guests. Photo credit: Getty Images

The cost of damage to hotel rooms caused by guests in managed isolation totalled more than $35,000 in just the first three months of 2021, according to figures supplied to Newshub by the Government.

The data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) shows the total of $35,380.47 covers any repairs above and beyond "normal wear and tear".

Included in the list of items repaired at taxpayers' expense are walls, chairs, kitchen cabinetry and carpets. Items that needed to be totally replaced included windows, microwaves, duvets and desks.

Under New Zealand's current MIQ law, the Government has no ability to recover the cost of damage to hotel rooms from the occupants, therefore costs are borne by MIQ.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Managed Isolation and Quarantine Charges) Regulations 2020 allows MIQ to only invoice its users for their stay at a fixed price. No additional charges for damage can be invoiced to those who have stayed in MIQ.

In October, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare confirmed a gang member quarantining at the Jet Park MIQ facility in Auckland had to be moved after trashing their hotel room

That came amid reports COVID-infected people with gang links had been intimidating the Jet Park staff and significant damage caused to five rooms since the beginning of the Delta outbreak, which happened several months after the period in which $35,380.47 worth of damage was done.

MBIE says those who have caused damage to hotel rooms while in MIQ are far outnumbered by those who look after their accommodation.

"The majority of users of MIQ facilities are responsible and respectful for the room that they have been allocated. In the period January to March 2021, we had 32 MIQ  facilities with an operational capacity of between 4000-4500 rooms at any given time. The majority of  these did not sustain any damage beyond normal wear and tear," MBIE said in a statement.

Each MIQ facility submits weekly invoices to MBIE. When damage occurs beyond normal wear and tear, MIQ facilities add the costs to these invoices.

"In the majority of cases, damage to rooms is only identified after room occupants have been released from MIQ, meaning that invoices for damage are not submitted at the same time as the damage occurs," a spokesperson said.