COVID-19: Managed isolation copayment scheme to be announced on Wednesday - source

A copayment scheme for managed isolation returnees will be announced on Wednesday, sources at the Beehive told Newshub.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says those who choose to leave the country now will be expected to foot part of the bill.

The arrangement will help strike a balance between recouping some of the cost to taxpayers and ensuring New Zealanders overseas aren't prevented from coming home.

The more targeted the scheme is, the lower the legal risk, since it's a breach of human rights to prevent citizens and permanent residents from returning home.

"We do have to take into account the rights of New Zealanders to return home, but equally the choice some New Zealanders have over whether they go away at all," Ardern says.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says it wouldn't have supported stringent across-the-board changes.

"We're opposed to people who have gone overseas not knowing this was in place [and] being pinged with it."

But National's Gerry Brownlee wants all returnees charged $3000.

"There should be part charges put on people going into managed isolation," he says.

So far, the Government has spent $81 million on managed isolation up to the end of June, and has $398 million tucked away to cover the operation until the end of December.

The influx of Kiwis flying home meant it was recently forced to ask Air New Zealand to put a hold on international flights so all returnees could fit into managed isolation.

This has caused distress for some New Zealanders who are unable to visit home at the last minute, such as Sue MacPherson who lives in Cairns, Australia.

"It's quite upsetting. I lost a close friend two weeks ago and I was unable to fly home for that funeral," she says.

Minister in charge of managed isolation Megan Woods says due to the booking system, some New Zealanders won't be able to return home when they want to.

"It will be in the midst of a global pandemic - what is a reasonable delay."