National to charge for quarantine
Judith Collins wants to see Kiwis returning home to New Zealand charged $3000 for their managed self-isolation or quarantine.
Everyone entering New Zealand from 11.59pm on October 3 2020 will be charged a fee to partially meet the costs of their quarantine under a National Government, says National’s Covid-19 Border Response spokesman Gerry Brownlee.
The Government is actively looking at a charging scheme as well, with Cabinet set to consider the matter on Monday.
“Currently taxpayers are funding a long and very expensive government response to let people come into the country. It’s entirely fair that those who benefit pay a share," says Brownlee.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been clear that she too thinks anyone leaving the country voluntarily following lockdown should pay for some of their stay.
National will require people entering New Zealand to pay a fixed fee of $3000 for one adult to help cover the costs of managed isolation and quarantining.
“This fee is for the purpose of cost recovery to reduce the burden on New Zealand taxpayers, and to cover some of the costs of accommodation and food over the 14 days of required quarantine for persons entering the country,” says Brownlee.
This will apply to all persons entering quarantine and there will be certain exemptions to ensure compassionate consideration.
Additional adults in a room if a couple has arrived, will be charged an additional $1000.
Children under 3 years will have no cost and over 3 years will see an additional $500.
There will be exemptions only for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents on compassionate grounds and in cases where they are facing financial hardship.
The policy is broadly the same as signed off this week by Australia’s National Cabinet and is in line with policies in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
“Two-week quarantining looks likely to be with us for a while,” says Brownlee, “This is a practical solution to a growing problem.”
“National’s policy is about fairness. Many Kiwis have only one or two overseas holidays in their lives. National won’t expect taxpayers to pay for other Kiwis returning from high-paying careers or expensive holidays in Europe.
“Those who need to return to New Zealand have had plenty of time to get home since border restrictions began, including through repatriation flights organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“They will have a further two weeks to get home without facing the charge, after the election of a National Government on 19 September.”
Brownlee says National accepts there will be issues that would need to be accommodated under the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and international law. The criteria will also be informed by common sense.
“During this international crisis National will do what it takes to maintain a safe and secure border. But we will not impose extra costs when budgets and incomes are under strain.”
The Government had been considering a proposal, but has in the meantime worked on a plan with Air New Zealand to reduce the number of flights into NZ, and making sure there were enough hotels to provide isolation for each returning citizen or resident.
Right now, each person returning to New Zealand is required to be quarantined for two weeks and are tested at Day 3 and Day 12 for Covid-19. This all costs the country around $4000 per person.
The Government had spent $80 million on quarantining by the end of June, with $298 million appropriated for the rest of 2020.