Managed isolation charges for returnees will come into force from tomorrow, after they passed their last Cabinet milestone today, Housing Minister Megan Woods says.
"The new charging system balances the rights of New Zealanders to return home and helps reduce pressure on the managed isolation and quarantine system, while recovering some of the costs from those who choose to leave and enter the country on holidays or business trips," Megan Woods said.
"Anyone who needs to come home but cannot afford the charges will still be able to come home. Exemptions are available for certain groups of people and waivers from charges are possible on a case-by-case basis for undue financial hardship and in special circumstances (such as compassionate grounds)."
Travellers required to contribute towards their managed isolation hotel stay will pay $3100 per room and $950 for each extra adult and $475 per child.
But there will be mechanisms to allow charges to be waived in full or in part, by the Government.
New Zealand citizens and residents currently overseas are not liable for charges if they are returning home permanently. Temporary visa holders who were ordinarily resident in New Zealand before our border was closed on March 19, are not liable for a charge on their return if they were out of the country on March 19 (unless they are a critical worker).
"New Zealanders who come home temporarily (for less than 90 days) and those who go overseas after regulations come into force and return at a later date, will be charged for managed isolation and quarantine, unless they are exempt or are granted a waiver from payment," Woods said.
"This charging system makes an important contribution to our public health response to Covid-19. An integral part of our public health response is the requirement that people arriving in the country go into managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days.
The decision has divided the coalition Government - Winston Peters has said everyone should be required to pay the charge.
Diplomats, refugees, deportees and people travelling to attend the sentencing of the Christchurch mosque gunman will be exempt from the charges.
The Government has set aside a total of $479 million to pay for the costs of managed isolation facilities until the end of the year.
An estimated 600,000 to 900,000 New Zealand citizens are living overseas, with around 400,000 to 600,000 living in Australia. It is unknown how many are intending to return.