8 Jul 2020

Returning Kiwis in managed isolation: 'There is going to be a limit'

10:22 am on 8 July 2020

The minister in charge of managed isolation, Megan Woods, says the government is looking at a booking system for returning New Zealanders in order to manage the flow of people.

Housing Minister Megan Woods speaking at a media conference after an announcement that she would take charge of managed isolation and quarantine of returning New Zealanders, after a series of failures.

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

New Zealanders wanting to return home are having to put plans on hold as the government scrambles to find enough hotel rooms for mandatory isolation.

Air New Zealand has agreed to put a hold on all inbound bookings for three weeks, to take the pressure off managed isolation facilities.

The freeze could potentially be extended.

Emirates has also announced it is freezing all new flight bookings to New Zealand for the next three weeks.

An Emirates spokesperson said existing bookings would remain unaffected.

Megan Woods told Morning Report it's important to manage the flow of people arriving to ensure managed isolation works as it should.

She said the government is looking at a booking system to do this.

There are currently 5787 people in managed isolation and there is capacity for 6378 people, she said.

"We need to make sure this is done in a managed way and it is done safely."

Of the 27,000 people who have been through managed isolation, 28 percent have been through in the last three weeks.

During this time, the government has secured 2000 more rooms for people, and is looking at taking the capacity to 6762 rooms in 14 days' time, Woods said.

"There is going to be a limit and that's not just about having the best place, that's about making sure that we've got good levels of help in place to make sure that we've got the right testing taking place, it's about making sure that we've got security..."

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