© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Fifth isolation facility in Christchurch

Lucy Bendell
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Distinction Hotel is one of five isolation facilities in Christchurch.  Lucy Bendell

Christchurch now has five isolation facilities and 31 facilities around New Zealand, but how do New Zealand's isolation facilities work?

While the country's borders are closed, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents have a legal right to return home. Those arriving in New Zealand have a responsibility to do their part to stop Covid-19 spreading in New Zealand by completing 14 days in isolation before safely returning to their home.

There are 29 isolation facilitates around New Zealand and five throughout Christchurch filled with 412 people in current isolation in the city. 

The Distinction Hotel became the city’s fifth isolation facility, accompanied by the Chateau on the Park, Commodore Hotel Christchurch, Novotel Christchurch Airport and Sudima Christchurch Airport.

To be selected as an isolation hotel, general safety requirements such as security and entry/exit points must be met. The hotel must have suitable room and bathroom facilities, the ability for food and drink to be delivered to rooms, safe laundry protocols, and an ability to ensure returnees’ wellbeing through the provision of online access and services.

The hotels must follow a strict set of criteria to ensure people staying and working in them are kept safe, and that there’s a safe transition of people back into the community after their isolation period.

Security measures have recently been increased at all managed isolation facilities. Fencing at all managed isolation facilities has been enhanced so all fences are 1.8m high and police now provide 24/7 presence at all facilities. In addition, a security manager will be assigned to all managed isolation facilities. The security manager will be responsible for site assessment, staff training, security oversight and coordination. Alongside the increased security now in place, the cooperation of everyone is managed isolation is just as important.

A Covid-19 response group spokesperson said the number of managed isolation facilities had been increased to ensure the return home happened in a safe and managed way.

The number of returnees heading to any one of the 31 managed isolation and quarantine facilities around New Zealand will vary depending on occupancy rates and staffing. In some cases, this means returnees face additional inconveniences and won't be able to complete their managed isolation in their home region.

"Covid-19 has resulted in huge and unprecedented upheaval, socially, economically, and for people's health and wellbeing. A return to New Zealand is a safe and welcoming option for those whose lives have been impacted overseas," the Covid-19 response group spokesperson said.