New MIQ allocations to allow entry for 2400 migrant workers

On 10 May, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that new spaces in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) will be available for skilled and critical workers. 500 rooms will be reserved every two weeks for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers, specialised construction workers, international students, and refugees.

The changes will allow 2400 migrant workers to enter New Zealand for seasonal horticultural work, as well as spaces for construction workers to help with critical infrastructure projects.

“The last 13 months have been tough for many but have been particularly challenging for our agriculture, horticulture and viticulture sectors,” Ardern said.

Who are the spaces for?

  • 300 RSE workers every month from June
  • 300 specialised construction workers between June and October
  • 40 international students in June, for the beginning of semester two
  • 100 refugees every six weeks from July

These are in addition to the 20,000 rooms that will be available for people returning to New Zealand. The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble, which allows for quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and some parts of Australia, has reduced demand for MIQ services.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said “We have carefully balanced the need for New Zealanders to return home. We are, at the moment, seeing lower demand for managed isolation facilities.”

The new allocations will maintain 10 percent of total MIQ spaces reserved for economic purposes, which Hipkins says will help deliver the “pipeline of critical infrastructure work that will accelerate our recovery.”

There are already 7300 RSE workers currently in New Zealand, 2000 of which were approved to support the horticulture and viticulture industries during summer harvest.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says that the new spaces will “support our rural communities and help drive New Zealand’s economic recovery.”

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