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Furious Stranded Kiwis in Australia given MIQ lifeline

Stranded Kiwis in Australia as a result of the government’s decision to postpone their MIQ deadline until January 17 have been handed a MIQ lifeline.

Many of of Kiwi residents and citizens who fly to Australia in late 2021 will be assured a room in a hotel quarantine if they want it, thanks to the Government’s MIQ department’s hard work behind the scenes.

However, the 430 persons who have received MIQ certificates will still have to spend almost $1600 per adult for a 10-day hotel stay.

Stranded Kiwis in Australia are unable to book a place in New Zealand’s quarantine system. Picture: Roy VanDerVegt
Kiwis stuck in Australia are unable to book a place in New Zealand’s quarantine system.

The MIQ department is addressing a specific set of travellers: New Zealand citizens and residents who have been to Australia and anticipate to be permitted to return home after January 17, 2022.

On November 24, the government declared that, as of January 17, MIQ will be phased out and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning from Australia would be able to self-isolate.

Due to the fast spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant around the world in December, Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins declared on December 21 that the MIQ termination date of January 17 will be canceled.

Three types of stranded Kiwis in Australia

The MIQ department is concentrating on three major types of Kiwis stranded in Australia for assistance:

1. Those who travelled to Australia after the government’s declaration on November 24, 2021, but before December 22, 2021, will be eligible for return airfares to New Zealand beginning January 17, 2022. Because they planned to return to self-isolation, these folks did not have a regulated isolation voucher.

2. People who have a voucher but are scheduled to fly from Australia between January 17, 2022, and late February 20, 2022, but have been impacted by airline cancellations. The government has been working with airline companies and others affected to rearrange vouchers to coincide with the new travel schedules.

3. Those travelling from Australia who had a managed isolation voucher and cancelled it before the end of February, assuming they wouldn’t need it because they would be free to self-isolate from January 17, 2022.

Given the 12% success rate of the latest round of MIQ allocation for Kiwis stuck across the world, it’s much-needed assistance in navigating the MIQ lottery.

On January 6, 10,995 persons were in line for the newest room release, out of a total of 16,617 applications.

Only 1190 of them were able to get hotel vouchers for themselves and others, enabling for the arrival of 1810 persons in New Zealand. It was a 12 percent success rate for those who joined the queue.

MIQ distributes vouchers to stranded Kiwis in Australia

In early January, Air New Zealand and other airlines sent emails to New Zealand nationals and residents in Australia who met one of the three requirements.

“We are working with MIQ to contact customers who travelled to Australia prior to December 21, to match flights with MIQ availability and allocate a voucher for a stay in managed isolation,” the customer service email of Air NZ said.

“As you travelled from New Zealand to Australia between November 24, 2021 and December 21, 2021 and were booked to return between January 17, 2022 and February 28, 2022 you can expect to obtain a voucher, but will need to email MIQ directly at australiareturnflights@miq.govt.nz.”

“Please note there will be a cost for your 10-day stay in MIQ however you will be charged at a 7-day stay rate.

“As there is very limited capacity over this period, it is possible you may not be able to travel on the date you originally booked or you may need to travel via another departure point. Our Contact Centre team are available to help you with rebooking.”

Long lines at Sydney Airport on December 22.

According to the website, MIQ has awarded vouchers to 430 persons as of January 10 and is working with the remaining qualified travelers.

According to the Government’s MIQ website, enquiries from persons outside the aforementioned three groups will not be answered owing to the high amount of requests.

There are a number of additional changes for Kiwis trying to return home from across the Tasman on the MIQ website’s new “Travellers from Australia” page.

For New Zealand nationals in Australia who suffer considerable and severe difficulty if they do not repatriate to New Zealand before the end of February, a temporary emergency allotment category has been established.

From January 13 until February 13, applications must be submitted for travel within 14 days.

Applicants for this emergency allocation must meet one of the following criteria: a delay in traveling to New Zealand beyond the end of February will result in significant financial hardship; or a delay in traveling to New Zealand beyond the end of February will lead to significant financial hardship.

Or, if waiting until the end of February to fly to New Zealand will result in displacement, homelessness, or other risky living conditions.

The MIQ website also stated that they are in contact with government authorities and airlines on the delayed border reopening and probable red flight schedules in March and April.

There are currently no red flights booked from Australia in March or April. Red flights pertains to a situation where travelers must spend time in MIQ.

For stranded Kiwis in Australia, the final option is to “wait until the review of Step One of Reconnecting New Zealand in late February.”

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