Hamilton will soon be ready to quarantine returning Kiwis and Dunedin and Queenstown are being looked as centres where people can isolate.

Cabinet Minister Megan Woods and Air Commodore Darryn Webb say that compassionate exemptions may resume next week, but with "low trust" controls to minimise any risk of spreading Covid-19 into the community.

The country's 24 quarantine and managed isolation facilities will be increased to 27 next week, Webb said in a press conference today.

Asked about any bad behaviour at the facilities, Webb said he had seen no evidence of drug dealers or prostitutes going into quarantine and managed isolation facilities.


But he said there was no guaranteed foolproof system. "It's a human system. We are setting up as robust a system as we possibly can."

Woods added that people couldn't just wander into the facilities they have visited.

From next week, she said day 12 tests for those in managed isolation would be fast-tracked so the results will be known before the end of the 14-day stay.

Some returnees were kept at quarantine and managed isolation facilities for a few extra hours until test results had been returned, she added.

But no one was leaving facilities unless they had been there for at least 14 days and had tested negative.

"We are also relying on each individual staying at those facilities to do their bit."

She said reinstating compassionate exemptions, which have been suspended since border bungles came to light last month, would be a priority next week.

"It is our absolute priority to ensure these can safely go ahead."


Webb said he expected the government to manage an end-to-end system of compassionate leave, including providing transport to and from a facility.

Previously, as was the case with the sisters who flew from the UK and who had Covid-19, people were allowed to make private transport arrangements.

But Webb said it needed to be a "low trust" model to minimise risk.

Woods said the criteria for compassionate leave was being reviewed, including how long someone needed to have already been in a facility and whether they needed a negative test before leave could be granted.

Whether someone granted leave could self-isolate in the community after leaving for the remainder of the 14-day period was still being considered, she said.

"These are exemptions... about exceptional circumstances."


More people are also in facilities, and safety would be the chief priority in any compassionate leave.

Wastewater will be sampled at the Auckland's Jet Park Hotel from next week as well, which will provide more information about the prevalence of Covid-19 among those in quarantine there.

Enough capacity at facilities for next week

Webb said 5305 people are in quarantine and managed isolation facilities, and current capacity was 6058.

Next week the number expected in quarantine and managed isolation facilities is 6481, while the capacity will be 6774.

More Defence Force and government personnel were also being brought on to shore up the end-to-end system.

There were 815 day three and day 12 tests completed yesterday, which was more than the planned 785 tests.


Woods said daily information sheets will be available, including how many are in quarantine and managed isolation facilities, and the inflow and outflow of people, as well as testing data.

She said she would report back to Cabinet this month on the vaccine strategy, including who was involved and what international collaboration New Zealand was a part of.

On David Clark's resignation as Health Minister, Woods said they had worked constructively together. She wished Clark well.

False alarm at Jet Park

Webb said a fire alarm went off at 9.30am today at the Jet Park Hotel in Auckland, where returning Kiwis are in quarantine.

Those inside were safely evacuated and were kept physically distant from each other.

He said it was a false alarm.


The Ministry of Health announced two new cases of Covid-19 today, but there are still no cases in the community.

With six cases recently recovered, the number of active cases is 18 - all in managed isolation or quarantine facilities.

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The first new case is a man in his 30s who arrived in New Zealand on June 27 from California.

The second is a woman in her 30s who arrived on June 21 from Kenya, via Doha and Brisbane. She is the wife of a previously reported case.

One person remains in Auckland City Hospital in a stable condition.


With no community transmission, the focus in the fight against Covid-19 is on keeping any imported cases from overseas contained in facilities and preventing any spread into the community.

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The ministry is still trying to contact 294 people who left a managed isolation facility between June 9 and 16 without being tested.

They were in isolation for two weeks, and have now been out for more than two weeks, so pose a very low risk.

This morning Clark resigned as Health Minister because he had become too much of a distraction to the Government's work.

He offered his resignation to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in person last week, and she accepted it.

Clark will still stand in September's election in his seat of Dunedin North, and although Ardern has left the door open for his possible return to Cabinet if Labour wins the election, she said he would not be Health Minister.