National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop and Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford have written to the Government offering constructive suggestions to improve the MIQ and Emergency Allocation process in order to prevent further tragic outcomes in the future.
The case of Mr Rael Kwasnik, a young man who applied twice for an Isolation Exemption in order to see his terminally-ill father and to attend a private visitation following his death, has highlighted a number issues in the Emergency Allocation process.
“This case is a perfect example of how our MIQ system lacks flexibility or responsiveness and it’s shown a number of areas where the Isolation Exemption process can be improved,” Mr Bishop says.
“The reason Kiwis are granted an Emergency Allocation is because there is an emergency and time is of the essence. Mr Kwasnik was forced to wait a number of days before he was told he wouldn’t be able to see his father.
“There needs to be a better process for those who are applying or are accepted for an Emergency Allocation place.”
Mr Bishop and Ms Stanford have suggested the following recommendations:
- Unless there is an exceptional reason an approved Emergency Allocation place should be allocated to the city where the relevant emergency event is occurring.
- A person with an Emergency Allocation place should be assigned a case manager to make sure any concerns or applications can be addressed urgently.
- A person arriving into an Emergency Allocation should receive a Day 1 Covid-19 test.
- The length of time a family member has been ill shouldn’t have a negative bearing on the request.
- Applicants should be provided with a Public Health Risk and Impact Assessment from the outset to avoid creating unrealistic expectations.
“Despite following the current MIQ process, Mr Kwasnik was unable to see his father either before or after his death, which was the entire reason for his travel and his approved Emergency Allocation,” Mr Bishop says.
“People who are in similar situations to Mr Kwasnik are already dealing with a lot of emotional strain, which is only exacerbated by having limited interactions with multiple staff. Dedicated case managers catering to these people would help ease this pressure,” Ms Stanford says.
“Many Kiwis who have been approved for an Emergency Allocation place assume they will then be approved for Isolation Exemption. This isn’t the case and there needs to be clearer communication from the Government on this process.
“But if the Government had opened a trans-Tasman bubble, Mr Kwasnik’s experience would have been dramatically different as his only travel was from Australia, and he would’ve been able to see his father before he passed.
“National’s recommendations are simple yet they will help make sure other people arriving into New Zealand under emergency circumstances won’t have to endure the same cruel experience as Mr Kwasnik.”
You can read the letter from Chris Bishop and Erica Stanford to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins here.