July 6 2020 by Scott Stevens
We are part of the team of five million and if the government in all their wisdom want to start using Queenstown as a quarantine centre, then supposedly we should act like good New Zealand citizens and do our bit. But really, on what planet must you live to think it a good idea to bus/fly returning Kiwis within New Zealand away from their port of arrival into the country. Unless I am mistaken and returnees are in fact flying directly into Queenstown from Australia, I am astounded at the stupidity of the thought process to be honest. It is almost as if the government are trying to find ways of making our border quarantine procedures riskier.
The only place for quarantine is at the port of entry, namely Auckland. Just look at the kerfuffle caused by busing returnees to Rotorua. We need to look no further to see the effect the stigma of being a quarantine centre has on a tourism-based economy. Nobody fancies sharing a family holiday with quarantined folk or anybody they have had contact with.
Of course, if you owned, for example, a recently opened 227 room hotel on the corner of Sydney and Stanley Streets, the financial rewards would be massive. Even at knockdown bulk room pricing, to hang the ‘no vacancy’ sign up for the foreseeable future would be a dream during these dark economic times. However, for the rest of the community, there is just far too much at stake.
And why are the government continuing to quarantine people in hotels at all? Surely, they can see what everyone else in the world sees. Covid is not going away. We will be quarantining people for years. Build a quarantine centre for goodness sake. One that is designed for the purpose of isolation not a hotel which is designed for social interaction. Run by specialists accountable to the people of New Zealand, be it the health department, police or army. Anybody but hotel workers and private security.
It will only take one punk to sneak out his window to indulge in the temptation that is Queenstown for the final nail to be plunged into the heart of dozens of local businesses. I think we have the right to be selfish here and the further Covid stays away from the Southern Lakes region the better.
The concept of using Queenstown as a quarantine centre is a stupid idea. No ifs. No buts. Just plain stupid. Just as idiotic as the idea floated around a few weeks ago to quarantine international students here. Whatever the immediate economic spinoffs, the risk of housing a potential hotbed of Covid incubating youngsters in the heart of our community is just not worth the risk. Regardless of what side of the political fence you sit, or how deeply you bought into the team of five million propaganda, you must surely agree.