Tea Clougher, a resident of Te Anau, believes the MIQ lottery violates the human rights of New Zealanders.
Tea Clougher has been out of the managed isolation and quarantine facility for a month now, but still remembers the exact number of steps she was allowed to take outside of her bedroom each day.
“I had 30 minutes a day, we had a circle that we could walk around, there were 357 steps, and we weren’t allowed to stop, and we weren’t allowed to talk to anyone. or… it was run like a prison, ”said Clougher, from Te Anau.
“When you met someone on a garden path, they had a hard time controlling their emotions. “
Clougher believes MIQ is not a political issue, but a human rights issue, which is why she is traveling to Wellington on January 25 to support Grounded Kiwi’s judicial review of the MIQ system.
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The advocacy group is challenging the isolation and quarantine order and the air border order, as well as the various systems that were used to allocate or limit MIQ seats, as part of a judicial review against the Minister of Health, the Minister of the Covid-19 response and the Director General of the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment.
They claim to have acted “unlawfully and unreasonably” in the design and operation of MIQ, citing the right of New Zealanders to enter New Zealand enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Clougher did not dispute that border protection measures were needed as part of the Covid-19 response, but asked why thousands of Aucklanders with Covid-19 have been allowed to self-isolate at home but not fully vaccinated Kiwis who returned negative test results before entering the country.
As a cruise ship manager, she had given up around 18 months of work before being offered a job in Europe, which she said she had to take in order to continue working for her company and paying her bills.
It took her seven unsuccessful attempts at the MIQ lottery, which at one point caused her to become an illegal alien in the Netherlands for three weeks, to secure a place in her home.
Clougher said that in the 10 weeks she was cruising up to 100 people across Europe, she had not had a single case of Covid-19 on board, but all travelers were shocked when ‘she explained the process for New Zealanders to return home.
“We wore masks and disinfections, every time you go up or down or enter a store or place… Europe has been doing this for a long time,” she said.
“Americans love New Zealand, and in fact they couldn’t believe what I was saying … they couldn’t believe that as a Kiwi I couldn’t go back to my own country … I was uncomfortable.”
In November, the government announced that fully vaccinated Kiwis could return from Australia without MIQ from January 17 and the rest of the world from February 14, but in December they rolled back to the end of February following the spread of the Omicron variant abroad.
The recent emergency allocation of MIQ spaces for international DJs and performing artists had seemed like a “slap in the face” for those working hard to get home, she said.
“I have a friend right now in Australia who is going to miss his father’s funeral… but they’re letting these DJs in…” said Clougher.
Most Kiwis stuck overseas simply wanted an acknowledgment of the hardships they were going through getting MIQ placements instead of the current government rhetoric that made them fight over summer vacation, she said.
A spokesperson for Managed Isolation and Quarantine said he acknowledged that many people were in really difficult situations due to the global pandemic.
Omicron had influenced the response to Covid-19, as evidenced by the number of returnees becoming borderline cases, and MIQ was helping manage the public health risk of the variant for all New Zealanders, they said.
MIQ was working closely with other border agencies and airlines following the government’s announcement of changes to self-isolation dates, an announcement to be made once decisions are made.
They were unable to comment on allegations that the MIQ lottery system was against the human rights of New Zealanders as the case was before the courts.