The Government is once again allowing travellers to apply to leave managed isolation early on compassionate grounds.
Seven people have been granted early leave in the past week, Cabinet Minister Megan Woods says.
Early leave would not be granted except in "exceptional" circumstances, Air Commodore Darren Webb said.
He said there had been 138 inquiries for early leave in the last week, and there had been about 50 actual applications of which seven were granted.
"Every single one is quite unique and will be dealt with on its own merits. It's necessarily a high bar, and that sort of ratio matches the need to have public safety paramount."
There was now an end-to-end system for those granted early leave, including medical support where necessary for transport, and strict conditions to manage the risk to public safety.
A new web application form would go live in the next fortnight, he said, so people wanting to apply for early leave would have more information before they decided to fly to New Zealand.
Each applicant filled out a health form so their risk to public health is assessed.
Woods said the 14-day isolation period was the most important line of defence.
How stretched are quarantine hotels?
She said the existing system of 32 hotels across five cities was close to the maximum capacity that New Zealand could safely manage.
That capacity was for about 7000 people, and with the intention not to exceed 90 per cent capacity to allow for some breathing space, about 15,000 returning Kiwis a month could be accommodated.
From next month, a system linking passage to New Zealand to an available room would ensure that supply could meet future demand.
"We have a very clear idea of what our safe isolation facilities are, and we are matching demand," Woods said.
Webb said Air NZ no longer needed to hold off any ticketing, given that the system would be ready next month.
But Air NZ announced that the hold on new bookings into New Zealand would remain until July 29 to ensure it complies with the new system.
"Following this there is capacity for Kiwis to book flights to return home and we will continue to manage this going forward," Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran said in a statement.
Outbound Air NZ services from New Zealand to international ports are not affected, nor are domestic flights.
Woods said there were 400,000 to 600,000 Kiwis living in Australia, but guessing the number of returnees to New Zealand - given the outbreak in Victoria - was like guessing the length of a piece of string.
New Zealand enjoyed more economic and social freedoms than the rest of the world, and that would also draw more Kiwis back, she said.
"We have to make sure we have safe and managed isolation facilities."
She said work was progressing so that staff at the facilities, including hotel staff and health and security staff, had regular access to testing for Covid-19.
Those workers were "the new frontline in the fight against Covid".
Woods said she would have more to say about potential co-payments for returnees "very soon".
No quarantine in Dunedin
Dunedin would not be used for quarantine and managed isolation facilities at this stage, Woods also revealed today.
Last week she had ruled out Queenstown and Invercargill.
Webb said the national capacity for quarantine and managed isolation facilities was close to being exhausted.
He said logistical challenges for Dunedin were too great.
As of yesterday, there were 3173 people staying in 32 such facilities across five cities, with room for 3523 more, meaning capacity was less than half full.
But more than 3400 people are expected to arrive in the next fortnight, when about 1300 people are expected to leave managed isolation facilities.
Today, the Ministry of Health said there were no new cases of Covid-19, but the number of tests conducted was still well below the recommended 4000 per day.
Yesterday there were 2191 tests.
It has been 82 days since the last case of community transmission.