Help for 200,000 ‘stranded’ visitors
The Government is rushing to find new accommodation for people to self-isolate in, including for tourists stranded here
A new temporary accommodation service was launched today to house thousands of visitors stranded in New Zealand during lockdown.
Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black suggested the service could also extend to people unable to meet their rent payments. She encouraged people to phone in and check.
"There is a cost for temporary accommodation and the service will work with each individual about how to meet this cost," Stuart-Black said.
The service was a 'matching and placement' one. It would coordinate with other government departments to sort out housing options.
It would also be open to New Zealanders who were unable to self-isolate or afford accommodation during lockdown.
Newsroom reported many of these people were unable to leave after flights to transit hubs dried up.
Those who were backpackers or freedom campers had little ability to afford places to self-isolate in after facilities for them were shut down. Two tourists told Newsroom they planned to camp in their van during lockdown if they didn't get out of the country.
A suggested accommodation list for these travellers included mainly four and five star hotels when it was originally published.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Stuart-Black said travellers should contact their consulate or embassy if they had trouble meeting accommodation costs during lockdown.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told his Parliament earlier in the week that the British government had offered loans to some of its citizens who were stranded overseas.
Stuart-Black said the Government realised there needed to be more quarantine hotels, and work was under way to source more accommodation options.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said a series of campervans had been set up at ASB racecourse for quarantine.
A series of hotels near Auckland Airport were housing New Zealanders returning with Covid-19 symptoms. Those hotels were also being used to house people who did not have good self-isolation options when they arrived in the country.
"We will get as much accommodation as we need to make sure we can keep people safe. Both those people coming in and also other New Zealanders," Bloomfield said.
The Government's temporary accommodation service was last activated in response to the Southland floods last month. It was also put up during the Kaikōura earthquake, Edgecumbe flood, and cyclones Fehi and Gita.
The temporary accommodation service hotline number is 0508 754 163.
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