Coronavirus: New Zealand plans to recover quarantine costs from some citizens

Citizens who return home for less than 90 days will incur the charges, as will those who travel overseas for vacations or business and need to quarantine on return.
Citizens who return home for less than 90 days will incur the charges, as will those who travel overseas for vacations or business and need to quarantine on return.PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand is proposing to charge a small proportion of the people entering the country for some of the costs of their quarantine.

The government expects to pass legislation within the next few days to allow the cost recovery to proceed, Housing Minister Megan Woods said Wednesday (July 29) in Wellington.

She expects regulations to be in place to allow the charges within two or three weeks.

Citizens who return home for less than 90 days will incur the charges, as will those who travel overseas for vacations or business and need to quarantine on return.

There will be an exemptions framework in place to allow for waivers on compassionate or economic grounds, Woods said.

The cost will be NZ$3,100 (S$2,854) per adult in a room with further charges for extra adults and children.

New Zealand's border is closed to all foreigners, while citizens and permanent residents entering the country must undertake a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

So far more than 32,000 people have passed through the system, which will cost the government about NZ$480 million this year.

The intention to recover some of those costs has come under fire because it could impede the ability of citizens to enter their own country.

 
 
 

"We are carefully balancing the rights of New Zealand citizens and residents to return home and the charges structure will be designed to maintain this right," Woods said.

The proposal is expected to impact about 3,000 travelers and generate less than NZ$10 million of revenue, she said.