COVID-19 Response

The below information is intended to provide the latest updates of our involvement in the response to COVID-19 through Operation PROTECT.

COVID-19 information for our personnel and their families can be found on the Force4Families website.

Information last updated: 23 July 2021

An NZDF soldier working in a New Zealand MIQ facility

Media releases 

Prepared to help

We are a Force for New Zealand, actively supporting the All of Government COVID-19 response, and Operation PROTECT remains an NZDF priority.

Regardless of the alert level, we continue to play our part in the All of Government response while maintaining our normal responsibilities and operational commitments.

We are structured, equipped and trained for a range of crisis contingencies and it’s this preparedness that has seen us fill a wide range of roles as part of the COVID-19 response.

Support to the Government 

By the numbers 

There are currently 965 NZDF personnel deployed in support of the All-of-Government (AoG) response to COVID-19.

Here’s where we’re helping out:

Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility (MIQF) Staff: 342

MIQF Security: 603

MIQ (HQ) Operations: 19

Ministry of Health (MoH) COVID-19 Vaccination Planning: 1

In total the NZDF has 1234 personnel committed to the response, which includes personnel preparing to deploy and personnel in respite following deployment.

Isolation and Quarantine

Our personnel working in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities have a range of duties which include providing information to returnees, co-ordination between facility and other agency staff, assisting with security, and oversight and guidance on procedures within the facility.

We are just one part of the team working in each Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility. Each team has representatives from Ministry of Health (health and wellbeing), Defence (admin and logistics), Police and Aviation Security (security) and Ministry of Social Development (welfare). Some facilities also have contracted security guards provided by private firms.

Colonel Rose King is currently seconded to the All of Government COVID-19 National response as the Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine. 

The Director General of Health has authorised enforcement officer powers under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 to members of the Armed Forces working within Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities. Members of the Armed Forces are able to give legally enforceable directions, and to request a person to provide identifying information. Examples of directions given may be for a person to stay in their room, and an information request could include a request for someone to provide their name.

Operational outputs

The current level of commitment is significant for the NZDF and we continue to review our activities to ensure we can meet our obligations under Op PROTECT while also maintaining our training commitments to personnel, force generation activities, mandated operational deployments and ability to respond to requests for aid to the civil power.

There has understandably been some requirement to postpone or cancel activities. However, priority is being placed on maintaining activities which directly contribute to operational readiness.

While our support to our operational deployments continues, additional considerations have been added in to our planning cycles to ensure we are prepared for any contingencies related to COVID-19, and its impact on our ability to move our personnel internationally in a safe manner.

Protecting our personnel

We are actively protecting our personnel so we can continue to protect New Zealand. 

We have an active strategy to protect our personnel throughout the full range of alert levels. Protective measures are in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and cover both individuals and workplaces. The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine provides an additional level of protection, but does not replace or remove the need to remain vigilant and follow Ministry of Health guidelines.

Personnel working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities comply with the health protection measures required at all times.

There are clear protocols in place within the facilities for when personal protective equipment should be worn. This ranges from no equipment required, to gloves and masks, or full gown, gloves, mask and goggles to be worn depending on the task and circumstance.

If our personnel become symptomatic while working within the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, they are isolated on site until they can be assessed by medical personnel. They will be tested for COVID-19 and isolated until the results of that test are known.

If our personnel become symptomatic after leaving a Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility, they immediately self-isolate and contact their closest Defence Health Centre for assessment. Any further actions will be in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and as directed by their health professionals.

Additional consideration has been given to our personnel who live in shared accommodation such as barracks, with each barrack block being treated as a household bubble for the purposes of contact tracing and any required periods of isolation.

Vaccination

The Ministry of Health is undertaking a COVID-19 immunisation programme. The programme started in late February with the first recipients being border and MIQF workers, including NZDF personnel on duty in the facilities.  

Vaccines will be progressively rolled out to a wider group of NZDF personnel, with the priority going to those who have been identified for planned or future rotations to MIQF duty, those who otherwise work at the border such as air and maritime crews, and those who might be called to respond to contingencies either in New Zealand or overseas.

Previous Contributions

The NZDF has been contributing to the All of Government response to COVID-19 since April 2020. Previous contributions have included:

  • 28 February – 2 March 2021: 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.
  • 14 – 17 February 2021: 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.
  • 25 September – 31 December 2020: Navy maritime patrol and response assets on standby to support the NZ Customs service during small boat season.
  • 18 August – 9 November 2020: 80 personnel supported the NZ Customs Service conducting maritime security and border monitoring at ports throughout the country.
  • 12 – 30 August 2020: 50 personnel supported the NZ Police with vehicle checkpoints established as the Auckland region moved to Alert Level 3.

Images and video

You can view our imagery and video here.

Contact

Media enquiries about our involvement in the response to Covid-19 can be directed to the All of Government response team at media@mbie.govt.nz

For all other media enquiries, please call Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980 or media@nzdf.mil.nz