Todd Muller has today blamed the Government’s "failing border management" as it looks to cap the numbers of Kiwis returning home due to high demand on managed isolation facilities.
National’s leader was asked about the issue by media while visiting a technology company in Dunedin this afternoon.
"New Zealanders if they want to come home should be able to come home full stop," he said.
He was then asked if limits on those wanting to return is a breach of their rights as New Zealanders.
"In my opinion yes, New Zealanders are once and always New Zealanders and if they want to be able to come home to this great country they should be able to and not be constrained by failing border management from a failing Government."
Mr Muller stated the Government "needed to be competent from the start and have some front end planning as to what would be the likely numbers in order to get ahead of that demand".
He says the restrictions wouldn’t be needed if National MP Michael Woodhouse was in charge of the border.
"Because they were so internally focused on their own shambles, they simply didn’t do that to the sufficient planning that we would have expected and bluntly if Michael Woodhouse was in charge he would have done."
His comments come as this morning it was announced seats on Air New Zealand flights coming into the country will be "managed" to ease pressure on managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Housing Minister Megan Woods and Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who are overseeing the quarantine system, met with Air New Zealand officials last week to discuss the management of returning New Zealanders.
“Air New Zealand has agreed to put a temporary hold on new bookings in the short term, as well as looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities," she said.
“People who have already booked flights with Air New Zealand will still be able to enter New Zealand subject to availability of quarantine space.”
The move follows similar restrictions in Australia, where passenger numbers into Sydney were limited following the suspension of flights into Melbourne due to Covid-19.
“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens," Ms Woods said.
“Our number one priority is stopping the virus at the border, so everyone must to go into quarantine or managed isolation.
"The Government is also talking to other airlines about managing flows. The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand, so we must have a manageable number of fit-for-purpose, safe facilities that do the job of stopping Covid at the border."
There are currently around 6000 people in 28 managed isolation facilities throughout the country. In total, more than 26,400 people have been through managed isolation or quarantine in New Zealand since March 26.
“These temporary measures will ease the current demand on facilities while additional supply is brought on line," Ms Woods said.