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Free hotel quarantine for NZers leaving for holidays 'not going to happen', Health Minister says

Kiwis choosing to head away on holiday during the global Covid-19 pandemic shouldn't count on a free two-week stay in a managed isolation facility, Health Minister Chris Hipkins warns.

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Chris Hipkins says plans are being worked on to help "offset" the costs of managed isolation. Source: Breakfast

At the moment, only New Zealand citizens or permanent residents are allowed into the country, with some exemptions granted on a case-by-case basis.

All arrivals need to isolate in a Government-managed isolation facility for 14 days and need to return two negative Covid-19 tests before they're allowed to leave.

It's a massive expense currently being footed by the taxpayer. Mr Hipkins says that's not going to last.

"The whole thing is costing us quite a lot of money. It's something the Government's looking at very closely at the moment," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"It is an expensive exercise and so we're looking at what we might be able to do to help offset some of that cost."

There are some people who need to be allowed in without necessarily being billed, Mr Hipkins says.

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It includes people who left the country before the global pandemic broke out, such as travelling backpackers or people who worked overseas.

For the others who chose to leave and come back after the severity of the outbreak was known, Mr Hipkins wants things to change.

"Someone who might be leaving or has left since Covid-19 began, well actually, the rules should be different for them and they should pay," he says.

"Certainly if people are thinking, 'Oh we can go away on a holiday, we could come back and have two weeks at the taxpayers' expense in a hotel in Auckland', that's not going to happen."

People shouldn't expect the New Zealand taxpayers to "subsidise their holiday", Mr Hipkins says.

"I can tell you that that's not going to happen and we're going to have more to say on that in the next week or so. But clearly we do want to deal with that."

Parliament is currently on recess and Cabinet won't meet again until next Monday.

"I imagine that we'll have more to say after that," Mr Hipkins says.

Last night, 1 NEWS revealed the Government is setting up a separate isolation facility for people being deported by Australia.

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That's a separate issue to be addressed, Mr Hipkins says.

"The New Zealand Government's position on deportees is long standing. We don't think that Australia should be exporting their problems to New Zealand," he says.

"Having said that, we don't have a choice to say no under our international law obligations. 

"We do have to allow these people to come to New Zealand, so we need to make sure we are bringing them back into New Zealand in a way that's safe."

There'll be extra military staff and police at that facility to managed the "increased risk" that group of people bring, he says.