National has blasted a new ballot-based MIQ priority system as a "band-aid on a festering wound" saying it will do little to serve the thousands of people desperately trying to get into the country.
On Wednesday Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced a "virtual lobby" system had been designed to replace the previous voucher-based system.
The first-in, first-served voucher system had been plagued by inequities with reports of people missing out after spending hours on end seeking a spot amid others paying people, and even using bots, to constantly refresh pages.
The new system would randomly organise registered people into a queue, gradually allowing people through the website to secure a room.
The first virtual lobby was scheduled for this Monday, opening for registration between 8am and 9am, when the recent pause due to the current outbreak would be lifted with 3000 rooms available through to December.
There would then be 4000 rooms per fortnight released in stages over the following months.
Hipkins said they were still expecting more demand than supply, but the aim was to make the system more fair and "level the playing field".
National Party Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop said the problem was the system was still unable to differentiate between needs.
It still meant a nurse or a teacher or construction worker who was desperately needed here, or someone wanting to return home for good after years away, was treated the same as someone who just wanted to go on a holiday, he said.
"It is better than what they have currently but they are putting a band-aid on the festering wound that is the MIQ system."
In the short term National was promoting a points-based system that would make a judgment over the reasons people had to travel.
Into the new year Bishop said they were supportive of plans to move away from MIQ altogether for fully-vaccinated travellers and home isolation in certain situations.
Hipkins said a points-based system, as used in determining visas, was "highly complex", particularly for just a two-week stay in isolation. It could also end up taking longer to process vouchers.
"This new process we put in place means the luck is equally shared, rather than whether your web browser is faster and you are reflecting faster or whether you happen to be online at the time the rooms are released.
"We are trying to give everyone an equal opportunity."
Those with an urgent need to come home could still apply for emergency allocations, he said.
Regarding cancelled slots, Hipkins said they were uncertain yet how they would be reallocated and would wait to see how many there were.
Longer term, Hipkins said, more options would become available as vaccination rates increased.
"While we make it easier for people who are fully vaccinated to come into New Zealand, while we are looking at options to do that from next year, we expect that pressure at our managed isolation facilities will continue at least until the end of the year."
The lobby system was designed so that digital bots and algorithms could not game the system, Hipkins said. All the details were on the MIQ website.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's 14 new community cases were all linked back to the outbreak - the third day in a row, raising further hopes the outbreak was contained and Auckland on track to drop alert levels next week.
"Trends are heading, generally speaking, in the right direction," Hipkins said.
"But things can change, and they can change quickly."
There was however one "unexpected detection" of Covid in wastewater testing at Snells Beach, north of Auckland, from September 7. Additional testing was under way.