Cabinet ministers call for people to be charged for their quarantine stays

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 12 Jul 2020, 3:11PM
Shane Jones, second from left, and Ron Mark are calling for quarantine charges. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Shane Jones, second from left, and Ron Mark are calling for quarantine charges. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Cabinet ministers call for people to be charged for their quarantine stays

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 12 Jul 2020, 3:11PM

As the country records one new case of Covid-19, two Cabinet ministers are calling for those arriving in New Zealand to be charged for their quarantine stay.  

NZ First Cabinet ministers Shane Jones and Ron Mark say they personally believe the Government should now be levying a quarantine charge against those returning to New Zealand.

The Australian state of New South Wales will start to charge travellers from next weekend. A family-of-four returning from overseas will have to pay A$5000 ($5287) for their hotel quarantine stay.

Jones said the cost of quarantine was placing a heavy financial burden on Kiwi taxpayers.

"I'm really irked by those Kiwis who have been away a really long time and suddenly realise New Zealand is a great place to be.

"We have got to ration the number of people we can afford to keep in quarantine facilities."

Both he and Mark cautioned that their views were a personal position, that Cabinet minister Megan Woods was leading the Government's response and that Cabinet had yet to decide on the issue of charging.

Jones said he wasn't simply speaking hypothetically but had wrestled with the issue in his whānau, with a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Queensland who had looked at returning to New Zealand.

Mark, while also saying the decision was for Cabinet to make, was more forthright when asked if those returning should bear the cost of quarantine.

"Damn right," he said. "There is a live conversation around how long the Government can sustain the current cost structure.

"There are those of us who believe those who choose to come home now - who could have come home in March - should pay their own way."

The latest case had been in managed isolation at the Christchurch Commodore Airport Hotel and is now in quarantine. The woman had previously been identified as a close contact of another case, the ministry said.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced one new confirmed case of Covid-19, a woman in her 20s who arrived in New Zealand on July 2 from London, via Doha and Sydney who had tested positive.

Meanwhile, details have emerged of the fourth person who escaped from a Covid-19 managed isolation facility, broke a window and knocked on the doors of several nearby homes in the middle of the night before being found by police.

The person in their 60s broke free of security measures at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Auckland, less than nine hours after Hamilton escapee Martin McVicar, 52, appeared in court facing a charge of intentional damage of a 52-inch TV and intentionally failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 by leaving a managed isolation facility and purchasing alcohol.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, head of managed isolation and quarantine, revealed yesterday the person escaped after breaking and then climbing out of a window.

They then climbed perimeter fencing shortly after 11pm on Friday.

"They were picked up by police at about 12.15am and immediately returned to the facility where they were put under guard," Webb said.

People charged under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act can face either six months' imprisonment or a $4000 fine.

The National Party said the Government's ineptitude was putting the public at risk.

Party spokeswoman for Covid Recovery Amy Adams said the public were right to expect the Government to be able to keep people from getting out of the quarantine hotels.