The Government is talking to Rotorua hotels about being used for new MIQ facilities despite widespread condemnation of the move from city leaders.
One says new facilities would start "a revolt" and another says Rotorua is being "unfairly targeted" despite its vulnerable population.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday there was no more capacity for MIQ or quarantine in South Auckland, and Rotorua was being looked at as a back-up.
That was despite Rotorua leaders across the political spectrum and Lakes District Health Board pleading earlier this month for no more MIQ hotels in the tourism town, which already hosts three at the Rydges, Ibis and Sudima hotels.
Māori Party co-leader and Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi said on Wednesday Rotorua was being "unfairly targeted".
"Rotorua has done its fair share of heavy lifting in MIQ for this country," he said.
"It's time to use another town outside of the Waiariki district. Why not Queenstown and places like that? They have big hotels. They are more isolated than Rotorua. They have less vulnerable people living there, Māori people."
Waititi reiterated Lakes DHB concerns that it was already at breaking point and said he was worried the Rotorua would struggle to recover from the pandemic, especially if it had a Covid-19 outbreak.
"Not only is Rotorua affected by MIQ but it is also affected by transitional and emergency housing.
"By the time the pandemic hits Rotorua, our health facilities will already be at full capacity. We have to look at tomorrow, not just today."
Lakes DHB member Lyall Thurston said he understood another two accommodation providers were being eyed up in spite of the DHB's protest.
"It beggars belief what has happened to this town. This town can't cope with any more isolation facilities. Our manakitanga [hospitality, kindness] has all but been exhausted.
"I think they will find there will be a revolt in Rotorua. There's a limit to what we can sustain as a community. It's time for the Government to turn its attention to other areas.
"The community has been incredibly generous and welcoming, but we're being stretched far too thin."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Arawa and Rotorua Economic Development representatives had already said "no more" to MIQ officials when they were in the city earlier this month.
The city could not sustain any more MIQ facilities "and we were very clear with officials about that and about our concerns if it does happen", she said.
"Imposing more MIQ facilities on our city will increase risks to community safety and health services, so that's a real concern."
Chadwick said the city also needed to retain accommodation for visitors.
"Rotorua has willingly played its part, taking on MIQ at the same time as trying to get our economy going again and addressing our critical housing shortage and other challenges, but I don't think it would be fair on our community to expect us to take on more."
Rotorua MP Todd McClay said: "It's extremely concerning Mr Hipkins does not appear to be taking on board people's concerns."
McClay said vaccination rates had been slow in Rotorua and people were worried at the potential for a Delta variant outbreak.
"The people working in MIQ are doing a very good job and it's important that New Zealanders are able to come home but they need to look at all parts of New Zealand."
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson said the Rotorua community had already contributed a lot to the country's MIQ function and the Government should now look elsewhere.
"Another MIQ facility in Rotorua has the potential to impact negatively across a number of sectors and industries, including tourism."
Asked how Rotorua residents could be assured the Government was taking these concerns seriously, Hipkins said in a statement it "acknowledges and was extremely grateful for the efforts of people and communities across Rotorua in New Zealand's fight against Covid-19".
"Extremely high demand" prompted investigation of potential options but no decision had yet been made, Hipkins said.
Workforce supply, suitability of hotels, proximity to hospital facilities, and appropriate transport hubs were "complex issues" that had to be considered.
"This is the reason Rotorua is being investigated as a potential option, rather than more remote locations such as Queenstown," Hipkins said.
"I am mindful of the impact additional facilities could have locally and these will be part of our assessments, discussions and considerations."
Yesterday multiple Rotorua leaders confirmed they received an email from a Government official this week asking for feedback about new MIQ.
A copy read by the Rotorua Daily Post said the Government had identified hotels "that could potentially be suitable and we are now engaging with them and with key local stakeholders".
"The potential impact additional facilities could have on housing, and economic activity – including tourism - will also be part of our discussions and considerations.
"A final decision about potentially establishing any new facilities will be made by Cabinet."
Waiariki Labour list MP Tamati Coffey last week echoed concerns at more MIQ facilities coming to town but declined to comment yesterday.
Where will Rotorua's visitors go?
Rotorua hospitality worker Herbert Mitchell questioned the impact more MIQ facilities would have on the city's pandemic recovery efforts.
"The fewer facilities we have for the outside visitors to our beautiful city, the fewer people will visit if they don't have any other good accommodation available for them to stay in," he said.
"We are already struggling to get people to visit now with so many of the motels are made into emergency housing. And yes, I know they motels are struggling, but aren't well all?"
Mitchell, who lives near the CBD, said he felt Rotorua had been grappling with empty shops and buildings "even before this epidemic".
"So I'm not sure how the city is gonna get back to its feet even if we have more or less MIQ facilities set up," he said.
Mitchell said the Government should be listening to locals.
"It should be basically more about how the locals feel and the impacts on business, and the safety of the community."