A business owner in managed isolation says he stopped eating for eight days to see if authorities would notice.
They didn't, Tony Everitt said, after eating what he says was his first meal in almost 192 hours.
From when he ate a small breakfast in Hong Kong on August 14 until this morning,when he opened a managed isolation-supplied breakfast of toast, eggs, hash browns, tomato, sausages, fruit and a muffin, Everitt says he survived only on water and black coffee.
But a Managed Isolation and Quarantine spokesman said nursing staff spoke to Everitt daily and recorded no health concerns, and every effort had been made to make sure returnees' health and wellbeing needs were met.
Everitt, who before arriving in New Zealand unsuccessfully requested an exemption from managed isolation to self-isolate alone at his home, began his silent protest by turning down an offer of water and a snack before boarding a bus in Auckland to travel to the Ibis Rotorua.
He then deliberately made no orders for the food supplied to those in isolation, or from outside suppliers.
"When I arrived I thought, 'I bet no one is even interested in anything other than the Covid-19 virus, so I decided to run an experiment, let's not eat for seven days and see if anyone notices … I was right, no one has noticed.
"If they are not noticing simple things like whether someone is eating on a daily basis, then they cannot be picking up on exercise, cleanliness, other medical issues, stress, confinement issues, sleep, boredom, anxiety."
They recognised managed isolation could be stressful, and affect those going through it differently, the Managed Isolation and Quarantine spokesman said.
Nurses were on-site 24/7 and a welcome pack highlighted online tools and free phone and text services for returnees to get support. New arrivals were also screened on arrival at the airport and asked about their health and wellbeing needs, and again on arriving at managed isolation hotels.
The Ministry of Health was developing further advice on support, and practices were continually reviewed, he said.
"In the Rotorua managed isolation facilities mental health is initially monitored through the daily health check and through interaction with staff.
If there is any indication of distress there is a staged process of engagement from the staff, nurses and, unique to Rotorua, a group of "welfare navigators", who are available to discuss issues and develop plans of resolution or provide insight if someone requires mental health support.
Returnees are required to return a menu every three days for their next three days of meals, but can also refuse this and order in.
"Managed isolation and quarantine facilities have been established to ensure the safety of returnees, the staff who work there and the New Zealand community. Every effort has been made to make sure returnees' health and wellbeing needs are met.
"Returnees must accept some responsibility throughout their stay."
Asked if he had a personal responsibility to take care of his health, Everitt questioned how many people "generally come forward with health issues, mental or otherwise?"
The welcome pack was great, but also assumed people were in the right state of mind to take advantage of them, he said.
"Surely the Government has a duty of care to actively manage and monitor those in isolation, not to just ask, 'how are you today?'. Because in my experience when you ask that question the answer is usually, 'fine thanks'."
Before his hunger strike, he'd previously fasted for up to three days.
The only effect of eight days without food was an estimated 8kg weight loss and a drop in energy - although he still walked 10km a day around the 190m fence line of the designated exercise area.
Everitt, who would only say that he's aged between 55 and 65, owns a homeware importing business and splits his time between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Asked on what grounds he applied for an exemption - which has previously only been given on medical grounds - Everitt said he was "a standard New Zealand citizen … not young, had travelled the world and understand what my responsibilities are".
"I can get on with my life and my business, I can save the taxpayer the cost [of my managed isolation] and I'm a low-risk adult who's prepared to do what they say."
Everitt, who didn't have to pay for managed isolation because he'd booked his return ticket to the United Kingdom before charges were introduced, wasn't against managed isolation for some.
"I take issue with the blanket approach."
His business was hit hard by Covid-19 in April and May and was only saved because he'd sacrificed stock to make turnover to help retail customers try to reclaim some of their business, Everitt said.
He disagreed with the Government's repeated lockdowns approach to managing Covid-19.
"Initially it made sense but it became very obvious that this virus will continue to be about for a long time to come, and any economy survives on one factor - taxes driven from businesses."