Auckland's Covid-19 isolation facilities have reached capacity, with 4272 New Zealanders in managed isolation and almost 900 more expected to arrive in the country in the next two days.
Minister Megan Woods and Air Commodore Digby Webb have held a media conference updating the latest developments in New Zealand's Covid-19 managed isolation and quarantine processes.
Air Commodore Webb said the two new facilities in Rotorua were needed to deal with the increase in the number of travellers returning to New Zealand.
He said 297 were expected to arrive in New Zealand tomorrow, and another 590 are expected on Tuesday.
The two new managed isolated facilities were opened in Rotorua yesterday and Webb said returnees got further detailed instructions today and had the opportunity to ask for welfare support.
The government is looking at other regions to see if there were other facilities to accommodate future arrivals, and Webb said those returning to New Zealand would be required to make personal sacrifices to keep the country safe.
He said the selection of hotels was a detailed process, with 60 looked at in Auckland, of which only a quarter were suitable for further examination.
There had been a huge amount of testing over the past week and absolutely no evidence there was any community transmission, Woods said.
She said she had heard some New Zealanders express discomfort at having isolated travellers staying in their community, but the country had an obligation to provide the facilities.
"There is no legal basis to prevent them from returning home, nor would we."
She said work with the Rotorua hotels had already been done, and they were going to be brought on this week, but this had been brought forward.
She said the last-minute decision to change the isolation facility destination for oversees travellers from Auckland to Rotorua, showed that the "system is working".
Residents of the Stamford Plaza Hotel in central Auckland have been worried about a proposal to house travellers there, and Webb said managed isolation at that hotel was on hold until he was satisfied it is safe.
He would not rule out the use of the hotel in the future, but said a review team sent to check facilities at the hotel found two issues not satisfied with the airbridge on levels 3 and 4 of the hotel and a shared fire exit. He said a semi-permanent barricade system needs to be installed to ensure no mixing of returnees and other guests.
Woods said the government understood people's anxiety about the process.
"We understand hotels are level 4 worlds when it is level 1 outside, all we're asking is a two week sacrifice to ensure New Zealanders are kept safe."
On Friday, Woods vowed there will be "robust systems" in place to ensure the managed isolation and quarantine of returning New Zealanders, and there will be consequences for people who break those rules.