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Holidaymakers expecting taxpayers to pay for managed isolation is unfair, says PM

The Prime Minister believes New Zealanders going on overseas holidays should pay for their stay in managed isolation on return. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: Getty

Jacinda Ardern said a week ago the Government was considering making people in managed isolation pay for part of the cost. 

"That is a really complex area, there are legal questions we have to answer," Ms Ardern said today, with New Zealanders having the legal right to enter the country.

"We are moving cautiously."

"We have a number of New Zealanders coming home for a range of very significant and often dire circumstances."

However, it could be a different story for those leaving and re-entering the country for non-essential reasons. 

"My view is that if you’re making the choice to go on a holiday offshore with the expectation that tax payers pick up the tab on your return, that it's right for us to look at whether or not we can deal with that," Ms Ardern said. 

"Not only does it put extra pressure on our system for New Zealanders who need to come home, you actually have a choice over whether you leave or not."

Ms Ardern said charging people leaving and returning for non essential reasons was currently being tested of whether it would have any legal implications. 

"For anyone who may be considering a non-essential trip, we will be looking at whether or not you end up being charged on your return, because you have choices.

"I accept that some will have essential reasons, but for others who might be looking at the school holidays, it’s not fair to expect New Zealanders to pick up the tab."

The Minister overseeing managed isolation and quarantine facilities, Megan Woods, told TVNZ1's Q+A on Sunday that a four per cent growth each fortnight of people coming back to New Zealand was expected. 

She said introducing measures for phasing could help smooth out day-to-day fluctuations of people entering and exiting the facilities.

Ms Woods said the forecasted cost to June 30 would be $81 million to hold 20,151 people in managed isolation.

There has been an extra $298 million set aside until the end of the year