The Bill allowing the Government to recover some costs for managed isolation and quarantine passed its third reading today, and the charges will come into force as soon as regulations are finalised.
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.
The proposed charges are:
- $3,100 for the first person in the room
- $950 for each additional adult sharing the room
- $475 for each additional child (aged 3 to 17 years) sharing that room.
There will be no charge for children under the age of 3.
These charges are GST inclusive.
Who is proposed to be charged
- Any New Zealander who is currently overseas and enters New Zealand after the regulations come into force for less than 90 days will be liable for charges, unless they are exempt or qualify for a waiver.
- Any New Zealander who leaves New Zealand after the regulations come into force (for example for a holiday or business) will be liable for charges when they return, unless they are exempt or qualify for a waiver.
- Everyone entering New Zealand on a border exception as a critical worker will have to pay. In many cases, their employers will pay their managed isolation and quarantine costs.
- Other temporary visa holders are liable for the charges, unless they were ordinarily resident in New Zealand at the time the border closed and departed New Zealand on or before 19 March 2020.
When charging will start
Charging will start soon after the regulations come into force. This will happen after the Bill is given Royal Assent.
The start date of the charging regime will be published on www.miq.govt.nz (external link) as soon as it is confirmed.
Who will be exempt from charges
The following exemptions are proposed:
- Partners, dependent children and legal guardians who are isolating or travelling with someone who is exempt from paying charges, unless they are entering under a critical worker border exception.
- Someone in New Zealand who goes into managed isolation to care for a person who is exempt from charges.
- Anyone travelling to New Zealand to attend the sentencing of the person convicted of the Christchurch mosque attacks.
- Refugees, including claimants, protected persons and applicants under the special immigration category for victims of domestic violence, when they enter New Zealand for the first time.
- Anyone entering New Zealand after a medical air transfer or rescue at sea.
- Patients travelling as part of the Ministry of Health High Cost Treatment Pool or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme.
- New Zealand citizens ordinarily resident in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau who are travelling to New Zealand for medical treatment.
- New Zealand citizens ordinarily resident in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau, travelling from a third country through New Zealand (staying less than 90 days) in order to return to the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau (staying at least 90 days).
- People being deported to New Zealand, defined as “returning offenders” (in the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015) and any New Zealand citizen deported from Australia.
- Diplomats and consular staff, including their families, and official government representatives.
Proposed waivers for charges
Waiver applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
It is proposed that waivers will be available in cases of undue financial hardship and other special circumstances.
These special circumstances could include:
- a New Zealander entering managed isolation because they left New Zealand to accompany a vulnerable or disabled person back to New Zealand
- someone needing to travel to or from New Zealand to receive medical treatment
- other compassionate grounds, including when a person has travelled to visit a seriously ill or dying close relative or attend a funeral or tangihanga, whether in New Zealand or overseas.
People will be able to apply for waivers once the regulations are in force. Information about the process will be available on www.miq.govt.nz at that time.
How and when to pay
Returnees who need to pay will get an invoice at the end of their stay in managed isolation and will generally have 90 days to pay.
Information about how to pay the fee will be provided on the invoice.