ISOLATION FACILITIES - THE CRUISE SHIP SOLUTION.
Updated 30 September, 2021
The latest immigration announcements today improve the fairness of our visa system for many (well done at last) but will increase the need for isolation facilities so that families can be reunited as soon as possible.
News from the world of Covid is not good. Poster countries such as Israel and Singapore are suffering a major resurgence despite high vaccination rates and new mutations are in the offing. 2022 may be a much more difficult year for covid and the economy. We need to bring our people home now.
New Zealand is desperately short of MIQ facilities and many used are not fit for purpose. The government is making very tentative moves towards self isolation at home as a partial solution. In the meantime thousands of New Zealanders wanting to come home cannot, families which should be re-united are not, long term quality students who want to study and complete their degrees cannot, and businesses are suffering through lack of personal contact with overseas clients and inability to get essential highly skilled workers into New Zealand. Our health system is in desperate trouble as health workers leave through uncertainty in status and replacements cannot get visas or MIQ spots. Workers already in New Zealand and making a great contribution to our country cannot wait longer to be re-united with their families.
The MIQ lottery system is a shambles
The Immigration Service is a dysfunctional mess
Huge stress is being caused to New Zealanders who want to come home, and others who want to come and live here.
It is totally unnecessary.
It is a gross abuse of the rights of New Zealanders trapped overseas, and of others who want to make their permanent home in New Zealand.
There is no excuse!
It is now over 1 year since the adjacent letter was sent to the Prime Minister, Minister of Isolation Facilities, and Minister of Health. No improvement has been made. A larger ship could have been here last October and welcomed over 25,000 people by now, all at no cost to the government.
A cruise ship with around 600 balcony cabins (although only half would be used for a trial period) could be here on a 6 month contract and functioning within 4 - 6 weeks. This would be totally self funding and professionally operated as Managed Isolation faclities! Absolutely no lottery! Priority would be given to New Zealanders stranded off shore with expiring or expired visas through lack of MIQ, families which need to be reunited, priority workers in the health and other vital spheres and some space would be allocated to business people who need to go offshore to promote New Zealand and develop their businesses and keep their employees paid. Vacationers would not be accepted until higher priority needs are met.
I would do a deal with a health authority if necessary to provide Isolation for 2 weeks for new registered nurses with visas to work in New Zealand but no MIQ in return for them spending 2 months providing the health checks necessary on board.
AUCKLAND: Ideally one ship would be berthed at Devonport with a navy contract to provide security and possibly health services through their hospital, for a fee of course. Alternatively Captain Cook wharf would be eminently suitable for 1 or two ships. I believe Devonport can supply sufficient power to avoid using the ships generators in port. Main wharves do not.
WELLINGTON; A smaller ship could be berthed in Evans Bay at Miramar or Burnham wharves or the Patent Slip wharf (if its life can be extended) with easy access to Wellington airport and Wellington hospital.
Cruise ships have huge advantages over hotels including
** Living areas designed for weeks of luxurious living with one double or 2 single beds, separate sitting area, TV, bathroom and toilet, closet etc.
** Exclusive balcony to relax in the open air. Air conditioning is not required in the cabins as each one has a ranch slider door opening onto the balcony. Air conditioning may be required in the corridors but these ships have all had the highest standard air filtration systems recently installed for cruising in a covid enviroment.
Suites available at extra cost!
** Full catering facilities for delivering meals of cruise ship standard (although with lesser choice!) to cabins.
** Two pathways through the ship to keep staff and people isolating separate, with separate access from the dock, wide stairways, and separate elevator blocks fore and aft. The lifts would not need to be used at all apart maybe from baggage handling.
** Facilities for managed exercise if required on the upper decks.
** One ship could be berthed at Devonport with the navy providing security.
** Two ships could be berthed at Captain Cook wharf with a security centre on the wharf.
** Security is easier to maintain on a cruise ship than in a hotel. All corridors would be CCTV monitored 24/7 with movement sensors installed.
** Costs to the publlc are projected to be around $4,000 per person for 14 nights in a single cabin and $6,000 for two in a cabinTo be confirmed)
** We would be providing a complete package with a major airline including flights from Europe, Asia, and North America (extra cost to the isolation) co-inciding with isolation dates. Three arrival days would be allocated a week with one each from Asia, Los Angeles, and Australia. A one stop shop with one booking for flights and isolation from gateway cities overseas to the end of isolation.
** It would be completely self funded by participants including university students, business travellers, workers, families, and long stay tourists.
** Many of the larger ships have 500 – 600 balcony cabins spread over 4-5 decks. To ensure true separation it may be necessary to only use every 2nd cabin or else construct divider shields between each balcony.
** All passenger facing crew delivering meals, assisting with embarkation or disembarkation or doing the daily health checks would be saliva tested daily before starting work. A processing facility would be provided on board with answers expected to take 20-30 minutes. Full PPE would be worn in any passenger facing role.
** Medical and security staff on rotation could stay on board free of charge in a completely separate part of the ship if they wished while working to avoid endangering their families, and travel risks to and from home.
There is huge room for creativity in solution providing.
Fully vaccinated people could spend 7 days on board in isolation in a New Zealand port (1 infection cycle), tested and, if clear, self isolate at home for a further 7 days. The numbers passing through isolation on board can be doubled.
It seems that the current New Zealand government is philosophically, and irrationally, opposed to using cruise ships without considering their benefits and overcoming any perceived weaknesses. It is imperative we start to rebuild our economy without endangering our Covid status.
The use of hotels assists our hotel companies to keep staff employed and cash flow going. It is not necessary to reduce this. Students, workers, and tourists who want extended stays in New Zealand and are willing to self pay their isolation, contribute to every part of New Zealand's economy including tourist activities, farming, and hospitality industries
I worked for the Union Steamship Company for 9 years including 6 years at sea as a Purser, one year with Air New Zealand, and have totally enjoyed the last 51 years organising, operating, and escorting tours to the more exotic parts of the earth, mainly in Asia and the Middle East.
It is not hard to put a complete package together to help my fellow kiwis.
New Zealand Tours
Auckland Transport Consultancy
Telephones 0800 309 196. 021 174 9588