The officer in charge of Rotorua's isolation hotels says military personnel are the "right people" for the job of securing what are, in effect, extensions of New Zealand's border in the fight against Covid-19.
Yesterdaythe Government announced 30 extra military personnel will be coming to Rotorua this Thursday to start work in the city's three managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
More Defence Force staff are due in two weeks' time.
The increase will bring the number of Defence Force staff at each hotel - the Sudima, Ibis and Rydges - to around 20.
As of Saturday, the three hotels had 313 people staying in total, with 300 vacancies.
Major Joel Barter, the Defence Force officer in charge of Rotorua managed isolation operations, told the Rotorua Daily Post their core focus was to help transition returning Kiwis through their 14 days of managed isolation.
"We've got four New Zealand Defence Force staff in each hotel. Our job is essentially to facilitate guests in and out - New Zealanders returning home - through their 14 days and ensure they're being looked after in line with the hotel staff.
"They go through all the health checks and get their two Covid swabs, on day three and day 11, while they're here."
Barter said overall the guests had been understanding of the situation and happy to follow the correct procedures.
"Mostly, they're just happy to be home."
The Defence Force trains to be prepared for any situation. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly tested that mantra.
"It's not what we've trained for but it's exactly what we've trained for. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but we prepare for the unexpected and are the right type of people to be doing this job.
"The additional defence staff being deployed at each of the facilities this week is to bolster our security presence and give confidence to both the public and Government that security is being taken seriously at the facilities.
"In order to negate any community transmission and keep New Zealanders safe, essentially each of the isolation facilities is an extension of the New Zealand border. They want to bring in extra defence staff so that border is solid," Barter said.
In a statement on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation's managed isolation and quarantine team said duties of the new Defence Force staff would include "roving patrols".
Other duties included managing returnee's movements in the hotels and giving them advice about Ministry of Health guidelines, as well as helping with security at key points and escorting agency staff within the facility.
As well as the Defence Force personnel, each hotel also had at least eight private security staff and a team that includes police, Lakes DHB medical and wellbeing staff, along with existing hotel employees.
Before arriving in Rotorua, all personnel receive training that covered acting with empathy and compassion in difficult circumstances, appropriate conduct and legal powers, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), standard operating procedure training, and Covid-specific health information to identify symptoms and take care of their own health and wellbeing.
PPE is worn at all times within communal areas of the facilities.
A pōwhiri will be held on Thursday to welcome the new personnel to Rotorua.
- Additional reporting Samantha Motion