More than 25,000 people overseas are vying for the latest release of managed isolation rooms.
The online lobby system went live at midday. Sydney resident Maggie has been told she is number 23,222 in the queue.
Today is her third attempt of trying under the MIQ lottery system.
Louis Ribiere-Male, a 21-year-old Kiwi studying at the University of Sydney, said he is 25,215 in the queue.
Ribiere-Male, who hasn’t been home since early 2020, said out of the 30 Kiwi students trying to get home, he only knew of one who had succeeded.
The Government opened its managed isolation virtual lobby at 11am, with rooms made available for would-be returning Kiwis from noon.
The MIQ booking system has previously been labelled an “absolute joke”, “depressing” and “heartbreaking” by those who have not been successful.
Sanjay Banerjee, a Kiwi engineer who has been trying to book an MIQ spot for months while working in Indonesia, was hopeful he would finally succeed after being placed 1350th in the queue.
“[I’m] in a very hopeful position today,” Banerjee told the Herald, now at 812 in the queue.
The latest release of rooms will cover dates in October, November, December and January.
Today’s pending release will be the first time rooms in MIQ have been made available for 2022.
All up, 3700 rooms will be made available.
The previous release of MIQ rooms offered up 3800 spots.
To get into the lobby, people have to have an account at the Managed Isolation Allocation System website and have all their personal – including passport – and flight details handy.
People can only make one booking for themselves (or a group) per turn and once the room release starts, everyone in the lobby will be randomly organised into a queue.
Late last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 12,000 rooms would be released over a several week period.
“The reason we stagger those releases is because some people may have urgent needs that only arise say, in October and November and it allows those people to get equal access if those needs arise a little closer to the time.”
But the lobby system has been slammed by those who are unsuccessful.
On September 28, the Government’s virtual lobby opened at 5pm, with 3800 more rooms being released an hour later.
By 6.03pm, people were already tweeting about their spot in the queue. One person said they were number 26,700.
Another – Kate Saunders – told the Herald she was number 23,500 in the queue.
“Absolute joke and depressing …” she said of how she was feeling.
Saunders has been trying to get home from Melbourne.
“So heartbreaking to be separated from family for this long. Where’s the empathy from our leaders,” she said.
The MIQ lottery “is a joke”, said Kamal Katnaur, who had 25,749 people ahead of him in the queue.
“The circus goes on.”
At 6.48pm people received notifications that all rooms for that day’s December release were now gone.
People were left angry, with one retired couple telling the Herald it feels like they “don’t have a s*** show in hell of getting home”.
Ashley and Kerry Smith, who are in Western Australia, were logged in on a phone and laptop but each had several thousand other people ahead of them.
“This is the second ‘lotto draw’ we have entered. We could be here for years. This is total bulls*** we have a right to return home when we want to. NZ is our home, not Australia.”
While thousands of Kiwis based offshore have been left fuming and upset over being unable to secure an MIQ spot, yesterday it was confirmed that All Black duo Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu had struck it lucky by securing rooms.
Barrett was keen to return home for the birth of his first baby who is due next month.
Meanwhile, Tuipulotu will return to New Zealand to spend time with his young family before heading to Japan later this year to take up a lucrative one-season deal with Toyota Verblitz.
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