Border restrictions ramp up to protect Kiwis from COVID-19

Efforts are ramping up to keep our borders secure from importing new cases of COVID-19, after New Zealand's last active case recovered by Monday.

Hannah McBeth and Renee West were two New Zealanders who fought for the right to leave managed isolation to see dying relatives during the lockdown.

It prompted a u-turn from the Ministry of Health to loosen restrictions for compassionate cases. 

But now Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has toughened them up again.

From Tuesday night returning Kiwis will be tested twice for the virus during 14 days of managed isolation, and there will be no exemptions to attend funerals or tangis. 

However, they will be able to apply to visit a dying relative or attend a small group mourning.

"This is, of course, unfortunate but on balance I think it's a necessary trade-off as we relax our domestic restrictions," Dr Bloomfield said at his last daily press conference on Monday.

And partners of New Zealanders who are not citizens can finally return home.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the main issue is expanding the capacity for quarantining.

After questions from Newshub, Immigration NZ is expanding the form for applicants to explain their case.

But Lees-Galloway says: "People really do have to consider whether they really do need to come back to New Zealand."

The New Zealand border is the country's weakest point for coronavirus - the next challenge is getting those stranded overseas back to the safety of home.