The Bill allowing the Government to recover some costs for managed isolation and quarantine passed its third reading today, with charges coming into force as soon as regulations are finalised. Putting regulations into force is the next step.
“The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill and its supporting regulations will introduce a new charging system for managed isolation to balance the rights of New Zealanders to return home and help reduce pressure on the system. We want to share the costs in a way that fairly reflects the benefits to the New Zealand public of having such a robust managed isolation and quarantine system, and recovers some of the costs from those who choose to leave and enter the country on holidays or business trips,” Megan Woods said.
“Anyone who needs to come home but cannot afford the charges will still be able to come home. Exemptions and waivers from charges will be possible on a case-by-case basis for undue financial hardship and in special circumstances (such as compassionate grounds).
“New Zealand citizens and residents currently overseas will not be liable for charges if they are returning home permanently. Temporary visa holders who were ordinarily resident in New Zealand before our border was closed on 19 March, will not be liable for a charge on their return if they were out of the country on 19 March (unless they are a critical worker).
“New Zealanders who come home temporarily (for less than 90 days) and those who go overseas after regulations come into force and return at a later date, will be charged for managed isolation and quarantine, unless they are exempt or are granted a waiver from payment.
“The proposed charges will be for less than half of the average total costs for managed isolation and quarantine. For a single person in a room, the proposed charge is $3,100. Additional adults or children sharing that room will be charged $950 and $475 respectively. These charges include GST.
“This charging system makes an important contribution to our public health response to COVID-19. It has been over 90 days since there was a case of community transmission in New Zealand. We are continuing to detect cases at our border. An integral part of our public health response is the requirement that people arriving in the country go into managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days.
“The Crown has been meeting all of the costs of managed isolation and quarantine so far. It is only fair to recover some of the costs from people who choose to enter or re-enter the country for short visits. Although we continue to investigate more options for accommodating people, capacity in the facilities is currently limited and it’s important that we use options available, to manage the flow of people into facilities,” Megan Woods said.
The Minister will submit regulations to Executive Council for approval on Monday, 10 August 2020.
It is forecast that more people will be travelling and arriving at the border. The Government has set aside a total of $499 million to pay for the costs of Managed Isolation facilities until the end of the year.