One person’s experience of two weeks in NZ’s quarantine detention facility

A person who was clearly stressed from the sudden ordeal of leaving the country to bury a deceased relative, then returning to a situation he describes as like a prison camp, expressed what he noted as inconsistencies in the rules. From hearing the description of this experience clearly some staff were less than helpful regarding the state of this person’s mental health however going by other people’s experiences this is not unusual. Below is a description of the day to day interaction with the authorities and staff at the quarantine facility supplied through a friend of the detainee. EWR

Timeline in Managed Isolation Experience

My friend had to go to the Netherlands due to his fathers sudden passing. He was the only one in the family that could go and take care of everything. Funeral, house, everything. So he did, and all by himself. His travel wasn’t for ‘fun’, but necessary.

He returned to New Zealand on Wednesday the 12th of August, Central European Time, Amsterdam. (All the dates and times are Central European Time, Amsterdam. Due to me living in the Netherlands). That was the plan, however he could not fly back through the US. The transit wasn’t allowed coming from the Netherlands. Although he did have his ticket pre-booked.

He had to buy a new ticket and fly via Zurich and Hong Kong which ended up to be a 39 hour trip, with all the waiting between flights as well.

August 14th, he arrived at the Auckland Airport. There was a line for supposedly a health check. The only thing that really got checked was his temperature using an infrared scanner. No information whatsoever had been provided. People were put on a bus and transported somewhere. At that moment, it was not clear where they would go. Nor what would happen. Turned out that he was moved to an isolation facility in South Auckland. He was assigned to a room and received an information package.

He also submitted an exemption request, to be allowed to do his isolation at home. The reason he applied is because he is going through a grieving process. After being in the Netherlands to bury his father, flying half way across the world, and then being ‘locked up’ does not have a positive effect on his grieving. And could cause major psychological issues.

August 15th, he got agitated and was rude to the staff. Not overly rude, or aggressive. But after what he had been through, not very patient. He yelled at them and got a warning for his behaviour. Due to this ‘incident’ the police, who are on site 24/7 repeatedly came to his door, wanting to talk. He refused. He told them he was very tired. He went outside into the parking area and at a safe distance (at least 3 meters) lay in the sun and put his mask over his eyes, just to relax a bit. Security came and told him that he had to wear the mask. He refused, because he wasn’t harming anyone at that moment.

The police officer came to his room again, and told him that he had been warned 2 times now, and the 3rd time would mean that he would be arrested. He told him to go away, he is tired and would speak to them the next day.

August 16th, He went outside again to have a coffee in the sun. Again, very safe distance (at least 3 meters) and the police came and told him to put the mask on. He refused. He was drinking and did not see the point in wearing the mask, when he wasn’t a threat to anyone else.

My friend decided to stay in his room after this ‘incident’.

When speaking to the nurse that day, he asked about his exemption application. She told him she would make sure to ‘fast track’ it. He asked when he would be tested because it was day 3. The information package stated that people would be tested ‘around’ day 3 and day 12. They told him, probably today, or tomorrow.

August 17th, He would be taken for a walk. Supposedly in a park. (There is a feed on Twitter that visualises the 14 days in a more then friendly manner) however, the walk in the park turned out to be a walk of 200 meters to the next carpark, where they where allowed to walk about for a bit.

And the nurses told him he would be tested today, or the day after. When walking downstairs to go and have his walk in the ‘park’ he was addressed quite aggressively by the staff. He supposedly was wearing his mask upside down, or inside out… he told the staff member that he felt like they were picking on him and the staff threatened him that he would not be allowed to go to the park. My friend decided to go back to his room. The staff kept on threatening him, and told him he could be removed from this facility and taken elsewhere, because he had already had 2 warnings (as in being arrested and detained).

Looking at the information package, and the instructions. He would not have been allowed to touch the mask in any way when out of his room…

Meanwhile, he took some pictures of staff not wearing masks in the carpark.

August 18th, conversation with the nurse. He will be tested later that day. He went downstairs to level 2 to get tested and was confronted with military staff being on that floor as well. Very intimidating. At that moment, there is security staff, police officers and the military.

He was told that the test results would take up to 72 hours. He asked about his exemption application. And was told that they had not yet heard back on this.

My friend’s girlfriend came to the facility to drop off some groceries. But initially was told to go back home. She did not have a receipt. She did not accept that and talked to the management. And after some time, they did accept the groceries.

August 19th, no news on the exemption application. Other than them receiving it (by this time I had been posting lots on Twitter, telling people about the ‘real’ isolation) and my friend got told that there would be huge fines for taking pictures and posting them on social media.

August 20th, nothing shocking.

August 21st, my friend asked the nurse about the exemption application again. She then called MIQ. The reply was that they had been swamped, and did not know when they would be able to get back to him.

August 22nd no results on his test yet. The nurses told him that this would probably mean that it is negative. However the information package states that you get a phone call or a text message with the results. My friend also asked about his exemption application. But they hadn’t heard back.

August 23rd, asked again on the exemption application. Nothing. And no test results.

August 24th, my friend talked to one of the nurses, the kind one. Asked about the test result. Nurse told him it was negative.

Here in the Netherlands it is still August 24th. And I am hoping to hear from my friend again by tonight. However, writing this timeline, breaks my heart again. It seems, and I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, that every time that I have tried to get out some information on reality in New Zealand, the media come up with a plausible explanation as to the failure of the NZ government.

He is a very dear friend. And it is wrong what they are doing.

Kind regards,

(Name supplied).

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay (not the person in the article).

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