COVID-19: Managed isolation data shows 7 in 10 fee waiver applications have been approved

Newshub can reveal seven in 10 applications to have managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) fees waived have been approved by the Government. 

Data obtained by Newshub from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which oversees MIQ operations, shows 5197 applications had been made as at April 11. 

Of those applications, 4995 have been processed - 3928 approved and 1067 declined. That leaves 202 applications yet to be decided on.

That means more than 70 percent of applications have been given the green light - that's seven out of every 10 applications. 

Fee waivers are considered by MBIE on a case-by-case basis. They're available in cases of financial hardship or other "special circumstances", such as compassionate reasons. 

A fees system for MIQ was introduced in August 2020 to balance the rights of New Zealanders to return home with having a financially sustainable MIQ operation. 

The fees were originally $3100 for 14 days in MIQ, until MBIE upped the price last month to $5520. 

The data shows MBIE is raking in more dough. A report last month showed $23.9 million had been paid in MIQ invoices compared to the latest data shared with Newshub showing $31.8 million has been paid. 

Approximately one in five returnees have been found to be liable for charges since the fees regime was introduced. Of the 11,403 invoices sent, almost half - 5193 - have paid, while 4966 still owe. 

The Grand Millennium in Auckland is one of 32 managed isolation facilities.
The Grand Millennium in Auckland is one of 32 managed isolation facilities. Photo credit: Getty

Invoices are sent after a person has left MIQ, and they have 90 days to pay. Reminders are sent at 60, 90, 150 and 180 days from the invoice date of issue, where it remains unpaid.

A total of 1244 invoices were overdue, as at April 11. 

MBIE said it couldn't provide information on why invoices for MIQ charges have not been paid so far, as it doesn't collect that information.

Invoices are issued per room, not per person. That means one invoice can reflect more than one person; for example, a family with children who quarantined together in one room. 

MBIE plans to pursue overdue debts using its internal debt collection processes, and where a debt is more than 180 days overdue, it will consider court action.

Newshub revealed earlier this month that of the $1.73 billion set aside to operate MIQ until June 2022, $451.8 million had been spent since July 2020. That doesn't include costs incurred by other agencies involved such as the Defence Force, police and the Ministry of Health.

More than 132,000 returnees have gone through MIQ so far.