Covid 19 coronavirus: Dad says MIQ rooms too small for family of eight and no good for mental health

A New Zealander returning home with his family of eight after 17 years abroad wants improvements to the MIQ system to safeguard mental health.

Vincent Rall, his wife Susanne, and their children ranging from 2 to 15 years say they are crammed into two adjoining rooms at the Crown Plaza in Auckland.

“Apart from the beds there is very little floor space and we will be coming up to 200 hours without being outside once we all return our negative test,” Rall said.

The family had been living in Norway and trying to get a spot in MIQ for five months. Rall, a structural engineer, has a job starting in Tauranga in February and said it was time to move to New Zealand for good.

“It has been a gruelling process to just get a spot after a lot of work selling off and getting ready for the big move.

Rall said the excitement of coming to New Zealand has been overshadowed by their experience so far.

Even before they entered the room the family had waited in the bus outside MIQ for an hour and then waited another 40 minutes before they made it to the front desk.

There was a 24-hour wait before the initial Covid tests were taken.

Seven of the family had returned a negative test but an error in one test meant it had to be taken again.

The family were still waiting on that result before they were allowed to use the outdoor area.

Rall said the last time they were outside in the fresh air was December 28 as they walked toward their flight in Norway.

From then there had been 55 hours of travel and transfers ahead of their MIQ stay.

“We haven’t had a chance yet to stretch our legs or feel the sun, we are looking forward to that.”

With a baby in a small bed, parents sharing double beds with the younger children and 13-year- daughter and 15-year-old twin boys in another room Rall said the past three nights had been tough.

There were time differences and sleep patterns to deal with so there was never a time there wasn’t someone awake.

“The only time there is privacy for the teenagers is in the bathroom,” Rall said.

“We have spoken to staff and they are all very nice and polite but nothing has been done,” Rall said.

“They knew we were coming and knew we had three teenagers and three young children so we were surprised at the size of the rooms and being on the 26th floor.

Rall said since landing in New Zealand there had been no consideration for the wellbeing of people with the extra pressure of travelling with young children.

He said it was obvious what effect living in cramped conditions for 10 days could have on a family.

The structural engineer has worked in Tauranga where the family will live and the children will go to school.

“New Zealand has been voted one of the best countries to live in but this experience for us has seen it fall drastically.

“There needs to be a better system like priority queuing for families with young children and the elderly.”

Victor said they had faced long queues through the airport and MIQ system since their arrival on December 30.

“There were elderly people, people in wheelchairs all in the same queue with others – there was no priority queue or thought given to people like this or standing with a baby on their hip.”

Rall said the experience so far was very different to their recent travels through Europe.

“We have just travelled and it was very different and these are countries also dealing with corona.”

“There is thought for people’s welfare overseas but here it seems like it is only important that the system is being upheld without a thought for the people in it.”

Rall said the only light at the end of the MIQ tunnel was seeing his parents and sister in the Bay of Plenty on their release.

“It has been a long time since we have seen each other and we are looking forward to that.”


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