Jacinda Ardern explains why managed isolation hasn't been scrapped yet

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending the Government's continued use of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities for people returning from overseas - even for those fully vaccinated and who test negative for COVID-19.

The Government has slowly moved to ease MIQ requirements, including halving stays for fully vaccinated. Newshub revealed on Sunday some New Zealanders returning home to visit dying loved ones would only need to isolate for three days.  

But the Opposition is calling for more. It wants MIQ scrapped completely for fully vaccinated returnees and last week started a petition calling for it to happen. 

Ardern was asked on The AM Show why returnees are still having to enter MIQ.

"We've halved down the amount of time people are spending there now," she said. "We have people who are in home isolation having come in at the border and what they're helping us to test are the things that we'll do in the future to make sure that when we ask people to isolate at home, that they are.

"We're in a transition at the moment - things are starting to flip. We're shortening, we're moving to home isolation."

Ardern said border protections still had a big part to play.

"At the moment, we're just making sure we do that carefully and safely because, as you hear from the people that help us with our modelling, if you switch off your border protections quickly you do seed extra cases. 

"We all know that the thousands of cases we have from this outbreak at the moment started from one, so we can't be dismissive about one case being seeded in the community as not having an impact - it does.

"All of the modelling that you look at - the difference between large hospitalisations and smaller - one of the factors is what you do at the border so if you just flip that switch too quickly it just layers up risk.

"Even when you model with [border] restrictions you see cases seeded… that's even with home isolation because you do still get cases coming through even with vaccines."

The National Party has described MIQ as a "lottery of human misery".