Rotorua is now the base for two new managed Covid-19 isolation facilities, housing 232 Kiwis returning to New Zealand from overseas in quarantine.
The new facilities were created in Rotorua at the weekend after Auckland reached capacity - leaving many wondering why Rotorua residents were not let know.
Some of the city's leaders are "furious" at being kept in the dark while others say there needs to be trust in the protocols put in place to protect citizens.
In an emailed statement, Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who has been appointed to oversee the operations of all quarantine and managed isolation facilities, said 232 people were now in Rotorua at two hotels, the Ibis and the Sudima.
He said returnees would be tested for Covid-19 on day three and day 13 of their stay.
"As we bring more Kiwis home, we need to expand our managed isolation facilities and review our processes to ensure border protections remain robust," he said.
He said government agencies worked together with the local District Health Boards to open two new hotels in Rotorua to ensure the safe transition of people back into New Zealand and the community after their 14-day managed isolation.
Mayor Steve Chadwick said she was notified of the decision on Friday and informed on Saturday that the Defence Force was bringing people in that night.
"Given the re-emergence of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand this past week, locals will understandably have some concerns about this," Chadwick said.
"On Rotorua's behalf, I have asked for assurances regarding the protocols that will be in place and have been assured the operation will be watertight."
Chadwick said residents now had to trust this would be the case.
"We have no choice in this but Rotorua is not the only centre being used for managed isolation, and we need to remember these are New Zealanders returning home.
"Council was not part of the decision to bring people to Rotorua for managed isolation, but I appreciated being notified, and understand that local police and iwi were also notified."
She said while the city had been "called on to play its part" she hoped it would balance with the need for Rotorua to be open as a tourist destination.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard's message was clear, "We don't want Covid-19 quarantine in Rotorua, thank you".
Heard said personal opinion was that he was opposed to what he described as a "backdoor" move by those in power bringing the returnees into the city. He said Rotorua residents would rightfully be "up in arms".
"We're a tourist town and we rely on tourists, and we have a lot of homeless filling some of the motels and now we are going to fill up the other half with people in quarantine. What is going to happen to tourism and all of the other businesses that rely on it?"
According to the Ministry of Social Development's latest figures, there are 325 "households" in emergency housing placements in Rotorua.
"I can understand those hotels will need the cash flow and will be desperate for business. However, if that is the prime driver, give them the money and leave the quarantine in Auckland. Don't bring it down here," Heard said.
Business confidence would take a huge hit, and all work the community had done to support "Buy Local" and lift domestic tourism would be taken out in one "gazzump" as a result of the quarantine being in town, Heard said.
A man who flew into Auckland from Sydney on Saturday was in "disbelief" when he found out he was being taken to quarantine in Rotorua while en route to the city.
The man, who did not want to be identified, spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post on Sunday from Rotorua, where he said he had been taken by bus to the Ibis Hotel.
He presumed he would be travelling to Auckland's CBD.
Instead, he was escorted to a bus by police, and said it was only when he was on the road that the bus driver alerted him and fellow passengers they were heading to Rotorua.
"Everyone responded in disbelief, they thought it was some kind of joke. But it came clear once we really were out of the city limits that we were on our way to Rotorua," the man said.
"People were generally distressed by the situation, some ... had been travelling for days from Europe, some were elderly, and others on another bus had children."
While he was grateful the Government was providing quarantine facilities for those returning to New Zealand, he was concerned about the lack of consideration and communication given to him and other passengers.
"There was no communication before the fact that we were told we were off to Rotorua so we couldn't prepare for a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride."
He said no one had access to water or food. However, they were permitted one toilet stop near Matamata, under police escort.
"As a returnee, it does concern me that not only was there a lack of communication to us, but it also concerns me that there has been a lack of communication with the Rotorua public as well."
The man said he had returned to New Zealand due to financial hardship created by the pandemic.
He said he had not been tested for Covid-19 at the time of speaking, but had his temperature taken and been asked to fill out forms relating to his health on multiple occasions at the airport and the hotel.
He said he was allowed to exercise in a fenced-off carpark area, but, aside from essential purposes, he was not allowed to leave his room.
Furious Rotorua MP Todd McClay (National) said Rotorua had not been given the respect it deserved.
He questioned why the community was not alerted prior to returnees arriving in Rotorua.
"Rotorua has done what it was asked from the Government and it is outrageous that hundreds of people were moved into Rotorua to be quarantined here under the cover of darkness."
McClay believed the first busload of passengers arrived at 10pm on Saturday and was concerned for the hotel workers and their families and wanted to know if more hotels would be used for quarantine.
"This is now urgent and we cannot wait for days or weeks for answers."
Labour candidate for Rotorua Claire Mahon said it was positive news for Rotorua.
"It is a way for our hotels, food providers, and our whole town to benefit and fill some of the gaps left by our absent international tourists.
"Until now this has been happening in Auckland, meaning only Auckland hotels benefit from guaranteed large and long-term bookings."
She said it was the result of tightening security and Rotorua should welcome returning whānau with kindness.
"It is a good thing for Rotorua right now ... having food delivered from local restaurants that have been suffering from fewer customers."