*This story was originally published on RNZ and is republished with permission*
The High Court found that the MIQ system did not sufficiently allow individual circumstances to be considered and prioritised where necessary
A group that opposed the Government’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) ‘lottery’ system has won a major legal battle with the Ministry of Health, with the High Court ruling it was inevitable the process would “operate unjustly in individual cases”.
Grounded Kiwis took its case to the High Court to challenge the MIQ restrictions as an unjustified limit on the “foundational right” to enter New Zealand under the Bill of Rights Act.
It focused its case on the period between September to December 2021, when people testing positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand could stay at home, but those who tested negative at the border had to stay in MIQ.
In Justice Jillian Mallon’s decision – released this afternoon – the High Court found that the MIQ system did not sufficiently allow individual circumstances to be considered and prioritised where necessary.
“Because of this it was inevitable it would operate unjustly in individual cases when demand for places significantly exceeded supply.
“The MIQ system did not sufficiently allow for individual circumstances because most of the vouchers for MIQ were available through a ‘virtual lobby’ that operated like a lottery.
“This was not a mechanism that could appropriately give effect to the right of citizens to enter.”
Mallon found the categories were too tightly set and narrowly interpreted.
“A more sophisticated system, that better prioritised those whose right to return were being unreasonably impacted, was reasonably available and would have met the Government’s public health strategy.”
The decision clears the way for Grounded Kiwis to seek a judicial review of the MIQ system.