NZ’s free quarantine accommodation status in spotlight as Australian states begin charging

Could New Zealand be the next country to start charging for quarantine?

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Nearly 28,000 people have been put up in Covid-19 isolation facilities in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

It's a question on the minds of some, with New South Wales the most recent Australian state to charge those returning to undergo mandatory self-isolation or quarantine.

The cost will be $3000 for adults, $1000 for additional adults in the family and $500 for each child over the age of three years old. 

The move has sparked discussion about similar measures in New Zealand where so far, 28,000 Kiwis have been put up in managed isolation facilites. 

Kiwis Sam and Anna Smith could have to face that expensive reality if the quarantine situation in New Zealand changes. They're heading home after having to pack up and leave Canada unexpectedly.

The Smiths have already forked out thousands of dollars on flights to return home and are now preparing for two weeks in an Auckland hotel room - which at this point is free of charge.

"We got an email telling us effectively that we had to stop working the day we got the email and leave the country as a result," says Mr Smith.

The news came after their application for permanent residency was denied. 

"If we had the choice we would stay in Canada we're heartbroken to have to leave," Mr Smith says.

From next weekend the Australian state of New South Wales will be charging travellers for their two week hotel quarantine.

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"We believe this is fair,  Aussies and Australian residents overseas have had 3 or 4 months to think about what they want to do," New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

Queensland has been charging returnees since the beginning of July and other states look set to follow.

Almost four months ago, Winston Peters urged Kiwi returnees to get home to New Zealand quickly.

So far, quarantine has cost Kiwi tax-payers more than $81 million.

The minister in charge of quarantine and isolation facilities, Megan Woods said in late June cabinet would be looking at co-payments for staying in hotel accommodation in the coming weeks.

Today Ms Wood's office said there was no update on this.

Getting back to New Zealand for many is not simple, with cancelled flights and expensive tickets.

Shelley and her partner are Kiwis living in London, now facing a hefty bill in order to leave the UK before their visa expires next month. 

"It looks like the only flights available for the week that we're looking to fly only goes in business class and you're talking about 4000 pounds per person which is just unaffordable," Shelley told 1 NEWS. 

She couldn't leave earlier due to lease and job committments and believes paying for quarantine is unfair.