This week, the Government defended allocating hundreds of MIQ rooms for dancers and singers returning from a Dubai Expo.
In response to questions from Herald political reporter John Weekes, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said international expos are important for New Zealand businesses to showcase innovative products and develop new export markets.
Weekes uncovered that Dubai Expo attendees have taken 249 MIQ group allocation slots for the first three months of the year. Of those, 164 were approved for February alone.
New Zealand's "National Day" at the Expo will be on January 31. Scheduled performers include Parris Goebel's The Royal Family Dance Crew, Sol3 Mio, and Six60.
While acknowledging these are group allocations rather than individual spots, it will be hard news for those who have missed out in the lottery system, vying for the scant few opportunities with other desperate New Zealanders - a system suspended this week due to a flurry of Omicron cases at the border.
Every time a family or individual makes their anguish public in being unable to get back into New Zealand, the questions are raised: "Was their overseas trip really necessary?" or "Why did they not come home sooner?"
Other MIQ group allocations approved this year included a booking for 181 people connected with the Women's Cricket World Cup. A health worker allocation has 300 rooms per month and the US, Korean and European Antarctic Programmes have 281 people approved for this year.
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Sadly, choices are needed when trying to preserve a country from a sudden, uncontrollable outbreak. The troubling thought lingers, however, that we haven't made the right ones.
Hipkins all but confirmed as such when noting there may need to be some difficult discussions this year with some groups already promised places.
Managed isolation and quarantine remains a stumbling block for this Government and an anathema to our estranged.