An Auckland chiropractor says instead of charging his family thousands of dollars for a managed isolation hotel stay, the family and taxpayers would be better off self-isolating at home wearing ankle bracelets.
Gary Dennis said the Government's decision to charge travellers to pay towards their isolation costs was prohibitive and a big factor behind his wife and two children cancelling a family trip to Europe next month.
He said a family reunion was planned to meet up with a daughter in Amsterdam and Irish relatives from Dublin and go off on a trip to Croatia. Sadly, his 86-year-old father died during lockdown.
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"I still wanted to go because my mother is still there. I haven't seen her for two years and just want to give her a bit of moral support. It was meant to be a celebration of life, as much as a family reunion," Dennis said.
He said going now with his wife and two kids would result in painful isolation costing a great deal of money and time, but if someone said he could isolate at home he would have gone away.
"We could be putting ankle bracelets on people, charging them to wear the bracelet and if anyone is in breach of the rules stick a big fine on them or put them in jail for two weeks," Dennis said.
He was willing to pay $250 each for his family, or $1000, to stay at home, set up with catering, work from home and "do my garden and stay sane instead of being locked in a hotel in Auckland or Rotorua".
A managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson said allowing people to self-isolate at home with an ankle bracelet is not an option being considered.
"We are committed to keeping our communities Covid-free, and the border is our biggest risk. This is why we require all returnees to New Zealand to make the personal sacrifice of entering a Managed Isolation or Quarantine Facility upon arrival," the spokesperson said.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Chris Hipkins did not rule out the use of electronic bracelets for those in managed isolation after a third person allegedly escaped in the space of six days.
The use of such bracelets has been floated by University of Otago public health expert Professor Nick Wilson.
"New Zealand needs to learn all the lessons possible from the apparent failure of quarantine systems in Melbourne. New Zealand could also explore the benefits and costs of the use of electronic bracelets for people, as used in Hong Kong," Wilson said.
The bracelets in Hong Kong are mandatory and linked to an app. If someone tries to break quarantine, the app issues a warning.