Corrie van Wyk is desperately seeking an MIQ spot for his next leave in August, and can’t stay at his work in a Sierra Leone diamond mine.

For New Zealanders working overseas in fly in-fly out jobs, its easier to win Lotto than book a spot in MIQ and then line up flights home, one Kiwi at an African diamond mine says.
So-called FIFO (fly in-fly out) workers have long endured harsh conditions in areas such as Australias mines in return for often lucrative pay.
But Covid-19 border closures threw a spanner in the works, and even the trans-Tasman travel bubble means quarantines are not off the table if there is an outbreak in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
Corrie van Wyk lives in Greymouth, but is on a rostered fly in, fly out contract as a production manager at a diamond mine in Sierra Leone, meaning he has two months at work and one month off.
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He has been desperately trying to book a spot in managed isolation for his next rostered leave in August, but there are no MIQ vacancies until at least the end of October, he said.
Van Wyk can not stay on site during his leave, and if he is unable to book a spot in managed isolation he will have to find alternative accommodation, potentially in another country such as South Africa.
Corrie van Wyk, a New Zealand fly in, fly out worker at a Sierra Leone diamond mine.
And believe me, I am sure I am a lot safer going home to New Zealand than staying in an uncontrolled country anywhere else in the world.
He has returned home twice in the last eight months, in December and in May. He had stayed on site during previous leave, but the message is pretty clear from what I understand, the company is not going to tolerate that any more.
It was harder to find a spot in MIQ now the cohort rules have changed, he said.
Since late April, returnees arriving in New Zealand over a 96-hour window have been grouped together in an MIQ facility then locked down together for 14 days. No extra returnees are allowed into the facility until the last of the group has left.
The change was made to avoid the risk of Covid-19 spreading inside managed isolation facilities by allowing different plane loads of arrivals to stay at the same hotels.
Im not arguing with quarantine, its to protect the country, her citizens, and my family more than anything, van Wyk said.
However, he wanted MIQ spots reserved for fly in, fly out workers.
The worst thing is I have to find a flight youre given 48 hours to find a flight, otherwise you lose your place in MIQ.
I think its easier to win Lotto than to find a flight on the date.
Returning to New Zealand is a three-day journey, he said, flying from Sierra Leone to Ghana, then to Turkey, on to Doha and finally to Auckland via Melbourne.
He had not given up hope of booking an MIQ spot, and had seen dates made available as people cancelled, but he believed the new MIQ rules made it more difficult to secure a spot in advance.
There are about 4000 rooms a fortnight available in MIQ facilities.
Australian border difficulties
A worker at a remote gold mine in Australias Northern Territory who caught Covid-19 has resulted in isolation for hundreds of people at the site, and raised fears of the virus potential spread by 900 other workers who had left by the time the alarm was raised.
Two people who were exposed to the Australian miner with Covid-19 have travelled to New Zealand, and were in isolation.
New Zealand-based workers were a small portion of the 140,000 people in the Western Australian mining and resources sector, said Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia chief executive Paul Everingham.
They were primarily contractors who travelled to Western Australia for drilling, maintenance, and port and shipping-related work, Everingham said.
Quarantine-free travel with Australia has been paused until midnight Tuesday due to a rise in Covid-19 cases over the Tasman, meaning workers currently in Australia can not travel back to New Zealand without quarantine.
Under the current border settings, workers from New Zealand can enter Western Australia quarantine-free, provided they have travelled direct or via South Australia and Tasmania, he said.
Workers who travel from New Zealand through Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory can enter Western Australia but have to quarantine for 14 days, while workers from New Zealand who travel through New South Wales are not currently able to enter the state.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said that while quarantine-free travel is paused from Australia, people wanting to travel to New Zealand from Australia will not be able to book spaces in managed isolation and quarantine, because no airlines will be operating red-zone flights.
New Zealand business travel technology company Serko has seen a drop-off in mining company travel bookings since the pandemic, although they had not completely dried up.
As youd expect, the mining companies havent ceased operations, so they have had to continue to get workers to the mine sites, said Serkos Australasia head, Murray Warner.
For the mining companies trading with Serko, their volume of travel bookings was down about 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels, but that is coming off pretty large numbers.
There are other industries think finance/banks and professional services that are 70-90 per cent of their pre-Covid booking volumes, Warner said.
Some industries could easily adapt to working remotely as an alternative, while others, such as mining, did not.