More SIQ facilities wanted in Queenstown

The search for a self-isolating quarantine facility in Queenstown continues after a possible site failure.

As the Aucklanders begin to arrive, Queenstown only has two SIQ units available for visitors who test positive for Covid-19.

Once they were full, visitors who needed to self-isolate would be taken to an establishment in Dunedin.

A spokeswoman for the Southern District Health Board confirmed that the search continued to find a suitable location.

In Queenstown last week, District Health Board Chief Executive Chris Fleming discussed other options with Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult and other resort officials including Destination Queenstown and Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Boult said he was told earlier this week that the possible option under consideration was no longer available.

“So I sent him two more possibilities, which had fallen on my radar … and I’m waiting for feedback.”

Fleming said the board of health originally had five units in Dunedin, two in Queenstown and two in Invercargill.

“We have… secured a major facility in Dunedin which will give us an additional 22 units, and this will be our focal point for future self-isolation facilities in 2022,” he said.

The Régie was still in negotiations concerning the lease of the SIQ installation in Dunedin.

The Ritchies bus company would transport those to be taken to Dunedin.

Of the estimated 38,000 visitors to Queenstown over the next two weeks, many would own vacation homes, which means they could isolate themselves at home.

“If people want to isolate themselves in housing that they can extend, then that will also be acceptable,” he said.

South Islanders who can return home would have to go home, but people would not be able to travel by air, which meant North Islanders would have to isolate themselves in Queenstown.

Mr Boult said that while he still had questions about the situation, he believed the logistics were as organized as they could be.

“I trust them to do the job. My main concern at this point is to make sure there are confirmed isolation facilities in Queenstown.”

This week, Booking.com released data showing that Queenstown was the number one destination sought by New Zealanders for Christmas.

The first flight from Auckland yesterday morning only had two seats available, which “shows the popularity” of the resort, Mr Boult said.

He said the board of health is committed to addressing the SIQ issue.

“I understand it’s a frustrating exercise to try to do it at the last minute, which is why I would have preferred we had taken care of it earlier, but I think they are doing all they can. . “

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