Coronavirus: Compassionate leave to be reinstated, quarantine facilities in other cities being considered - Megan Woods

Kiwis will once again be allowed to leave managed isolation facilities early on compassionate grounds, with the change to be made as soon as next week.

Megan Woods, the Cabinet Minister tasked with managing the country's quarantine facilities, also revealed Hamilton will soon be set up to host new arrivals in managed isolation hotels, with Dunedin and Queenstown also being considered.

The update came just minutes after the Ministry of Health announced two new coronavirus cases at the border, taking the tally of active cases at managed isolation facilities to 18 after six people recovered from the disease.

"Next week, we plan to prioritise the reinstatement of compassionate exemptions, and the work that is required to do that," Woods said at a press conference from Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

"We know that it is a matter of enormous concern for those people who are seeking these exemptions. It is also a public concern - and it is our absolute priority - to ensure that these can safely go ahead."

Woods said she and Air Commodore Digby Webb had been revieweing all its procedures around compassionate exemptions, and would particularly be looking at health advice, as well as issues around transportation and ensuring compliance.

She insisted the circumstances would have to be "exceptional" for new arrivals to be allowed to leave isolation early.

The pair had also decided on making Hamilton its next spot for quarantining travellers, and had been looking at establishing facilities in two of our southernmost cities.

"We're also looking at other centres where we may have to stand up facilities," she said.

"We're investigating the feasibility of Queenstown and Dunedin as other centres where returnees can safely stay in managed isolation as they join us in our coveted position in this global pandemic."

Woods and Webb were put in charge of New Zealand's managed isolation facilities last month following a series of embarrassing border blunders.

While New Zealand has managed to restrict any new cases to our border, the Government's handling of the coronavirus crisis since eradicating the disease last month has not gone without criticism.

In June, Prime Minister Ardern, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and former Health Minister Dr David Clark came under intense scrutiny after two sisters were allowed to travel from Auckland to Wellington for a funeral without being tested for COVID-19.

It later emerged that one of the women was exhibiting symptoms on the day they were allowed to leave, and both tested positive for coronavirus.