Broadcaster Paul Henry has shared how he is doing in a managed isolation facility after returning from the United States.
His daughter Bella yesterday shared a hilarious snap of Henry in a mask by a fence where he is staying in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel. The post tipped media off about his return to NZ.
The television presenter was living in Palm Springs while finishing off his upcoming book. His daughter captioned the photo: "Regretting your Palm Springs trip now are we Paul?"
He told the Herald he returned to NZ from the United States on the morning of August 8.
"She [Bella] is a funny girl I love her dearly," he says. "When she did that [posted the photo], I didn't know she was going to do it. So we just had a really good laugh about it."
Speaking from his managed isolation room he said: "I was over there for a couple of months, and when I left New Zealand I was hoping that there would be no quarantine when I came back because I knew I was going for at least two months. I suspected there would be but I thought it would be a shorter quarantine," Henry says.
Henry said he was happy to be back in New Zealand and praised the workers managing the isolation facilities.
"New Zealand's lovely, just arriving back, the whole system is just a well-oiled machine. The people involved it in are spectacular."
The 60-year-old called the process "absolutely faultless".
It is a far cry from what is going on in the United States, where cases have tipped over the five million mark. New Zealand has had over 100 days without community transmission of the virus.
"There were so many things that you can't do and enjoy over there, because of the threat of Covid, which is very real, because the numbers are just extraordinary over there at the moment."
"It's made completely obvious how important [managed isolation] is," he said, adding that he is bothered by people who don't comply with the system.
"If you want to escape from a hotel you can escape from the hotel, but the full blimmin' weight of the law should come down on those who do," he said.
"For a country to go to all of this effort, and for stupid individuals to not abide by it, you know, it just can't be tolerated."
So how is Henry coping with isolation? He says he is getting used to it.
"You really are on your own," he explains. "People knock on the door several times a day with food or to give you a health check ... but really apart from going down for a little walk if the weather's okay, you have to be reasonably comfortable in your own self I suppose."
"I'm an absolute nut job anyway, so the difference between being in isolation and being in my normal life, it's not great," Henry jokes.
"I can sit and watch junk TV for hours and hours and hours on end. I've got books to read. I'm sorting things out with, a few bits and bobs that I've got going on in my life. I've just finished writing a book, I'm sorting out the finer points of that," Henry says.
"It's just a matter of pacing yourself because you know I've probably only got half an hour of things to do each day. So I've got to pace myself and realise that there's a whole point to this."
Henry believes because New Zealand has done such a good job of managing its Covid-19 response that we should be able to open our borders up to people willing to pay for managed isolation.
"The sad thing about this is that we can't take advantage of the fact that we've created this very desirable product, a country where people can come and not have to wear masks and just be completely free.
"I think it's a great shame, the system we've got going with this managed isolation is so good now. Why can't we open New Zealand up to people that are prepared to pay big money to go through managed isolation, and then spend six months in New Zealand?"
He calls it a missed business opportunity for New Zealand.
"We've created this little bit of paradise and we can't monetise it, because for some reason we're too frightened to monetise it."
From today, travellers who are required to contribute towards their managed isolation hotel stay will pay $3100 per room and $950 for each extra adult and $475 per child.
The Government has set aside a total of $479 million to pay for the costs of managed isolation facilities until the end of the year.