New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )
As per reports by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 31,800 people were in the queue on Monday, and 5,364 of them secured vouchers for rooms
Overseas New Zealanders who are now trying to return home are facing a queue of tens of thousands of people as the country reopens bookings to cross the border.
New Zealand's borders have been strictly controlled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – only citizens, permanent residents and a handful of essential workers can enter.
Also, all of them must make a booking to spend two weeks in government-controlled quarantine (MIQ). The demand for these spaces has been increasing drastically.
As per reports by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment 31,800 people were in the queue on Monday, and 5,364 of them secured vouchers for rooms.
The vouchers were released at 9am and all were gone within two and a half hours.
The joint head of MIQ, Megan Main, in a statement said, "I know many thousands of people missed out on vouchers in today’s release."
She added, "I want to reassure people that there are still several thousand vouchers still to be released through to the end of the year. They will get other chances. There will be another large release of a few thousand vouchers early next week and there may also be another smaller one later this week.”
New Zealand struggles to battle the Delta variant outbreak.
A level 4 lockdown has managed to reduce daily case numbers to about 11-24 a day but has not yet eliminated community transmission completely.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland, the centre of the outbreak, would move out of its level 4 lockdown into level 3 restrictions.
This will allow socially distanced services like takeaway food, at midnight on Tuesday.
The rest of the country is at level 2, no longer in lockdown, but with some restrictions on gathering size and mask-wearing.
New Zealand reported 14 new cases on Tuesday.
There are now 1,085 cases in the outbreak, 790 of which have recovered.