26 Jun 2020

NZers left country during lockdown, returned via stays in managed isolation

5:43 pm on 26 June 2020

A number of Kiwis flew out of the country during lockdown then returned within weeks, many staying at managed isolation hotels.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Official figures show 60 people left the country after alert level 4 restrictions were introduced and returned before May.

Those who arrived back after 9 April would have stayed at managed isolation hotels on their return.

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The reasons for travel varied with 20 visiting friends and relatives and 14 travelling in and out of New Zealand for business.

Statistics NZ said data from May onwards would be released next month.

The minister in charge of managed isolation, Megan Woods, said about $80 million had been spent so far on the compulsory 14-day isolation period for every returning New Zealander, with nearly $300 million budgeted to keep the system running for the rest of the year.

Government officials flagged the possibility of requiring people to contribute to their own isolation costs back in April, as they anticipated the return of tens of thousands of New Zealanders.

A briefing from the Prime Minister's office, dated 9 April, said until a "longer-term border management strategy" had been developed, the cost of providing managed isolation and quarantine facilities "will be met by the Crown".

However it said officials would "consider cost recovery and cost sharing approaches ... particularly for people who are seeking to repatriate after an extended absence".

Māori King to be updated regularly

The Māori King will receive regular updates on the status of returning New Zealanders staying in isolation at a Waikato-Tainui owned hotel.

Ibis Hotel in central Hamilton, one of two Waikato-Tainui hotels being used as managed isolation facilities, is preparing to host a large number of New Zealander's coming back into the country next week.

Waikato-Tainui executive chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen said police, defence force and Ministry of health had all provided assurances that safety processes would be stringently followed.

Kiingi Tūheitia will also receive regular status reports from the Covid-19 all of government response group.

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