One thousand returnees in MIQ are set to be released today as the country enters phase 2 of the Government's Omicron response plan at midnight tonight.
One woman who has been in MIQ since the end of last month said she received a call at midday yesterday telling her she could leave MIQ tomorrow.
"This morning they didn't tell us why. We assumed it was because they've re-calculated the isolation [period] for positive cases and then the additional isolation for the close contacts."
The recent returnee, who does not want to be named, was told she could pick a time to leave and a shuttle bus would pick her up from MIQ.
"They said we can't leave the room till the shuttle gets here and once it goes we can get all of our stuff and leave."
An MIQ spokesperson said under phase 2, managed isolation periods for international arrivals into New Zealand reduce from 10 days to seven days.
"This change also applies to those already in MIQ who have completed seven or more days, and are confirmed by a Medical Officer of Health that they are at low risk of having or transmitting Covid-19."
About 1000 people, between days seven and 10 of their MIQ stay, would be eligible to leave MIQ on Wednesday, the spokesperson said.
The managed isolation period for close contacts of positive cases will also reduce from 10 days to seven days. While those who test positive will need to isolate for 10 days compared to the previous 14 days.
"These changes provide greater consistency between MIQ and the management of community close contacts and cases in phase 2 of the Omicron response plan," the spokesperson said.
As the woman was scheduled to be released at the end of next week, she first thought it was a joke.
"With everything we have been through here you sort of lose trust in the system so we were pretty shocked."
Given her experience with MIQ, she said she won't believe it until she is on the shuttle bus.
As part of the government plan to reopen the borders, New Zealanders travelling from Australia can self-isolate from February 27.
Yesterday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins outlined the new criteria for travellers in step one of the borders reopening which applies to Kiwis and other current eligible travellers from Australia.
To skip MIQ, travellers have to be fully vaccinated and return a negative test before they fly. If they meet this criteria they will be able to spend seven days in self-isolation, taking two rapid antigen tests.
"These actions will lower the risk of Covid-19 entering the community while allowing more families to reunite, and will assist with the economic recovery and immediately address worker shortages," said Hipkins.
In mid-March vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents from the rest of the world will be able to travel and self-isolate on arrival.
MIQ will be removed for most travellers, replaced by self-isolation and Covid-19 tests on arrival.
But the managed isolation system will stay in place for unvaccinated people.
Earlier this month, the Government said the March reopening step should help bring in workers for the tourism, hospitality, wine and horticultural sectors.
At midnight last night isolation periods for contacts reduced from 10 days to seven, the focus of contact tracing shifted to "high-risk" exposure events and employees who are part of the "critical workforce" can get out of their isolation requirements if they produce a negative RAT test.