Government expected to allow returning Kiwis stuck in Australia to self-isolate from March

Coming soon to a vaccine center near you: the Big Boost campaign.

"Please, go and get your booster as soon as possible," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday, as the Government made it possible for a million more Kiwis to get a booster shot, narrowing the wait window between our second and booster doses from four months down to three months. 

Wellington is in.

"It's the responsible thing to do I suppose," one local told Newshub, while another said they plan to get a booster "as soon as I can". 

From Friday, the interval will be reduced, meaning if you got your second dose before November 3, you'll be one of the million Kiwis who become eligible for a booster overnight. 

"To reduce the risk of Omicron, we need to get the number of people boosted as high as possible, and before the outbreak really takes off," Ardern said. 

It is one of the shortest intervals in the world. The UK and most Australian states shortened their gap in the middle of the Omicron outbreak.

"What's different between us and those other countries that do have a three-month interval, is that we're doing it very early on in an outbreak, whereas they were doing it in response to a really large number of cases," said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 

Ardern said there is "still time for people to go and get their booster in the coming week and have the benefit of that booster for this outbreak". 

It is inevitable that the Omicron outbreak will spread like wildfire. This buys us time, just as keeping border restrictions in place has.

But the Government is under immense pressure over managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ), after the story of pregnant Kiwi journalist Charlotte Bellis went global. 

A defensive Chris Hipkins, COVID-19 Response Minister, released a statement which Bellis' lawyer says breached her privacy. 

"I don't want to make any comment on that while she is considering her potential legal options. That is her right," Hipkins said on Wednesday, when asked if he would apologise to Bellis.

Bellis on Wednesday night accepted the Government's offer of an MIQ spot but released a statement saying she'd keep fighting because MIQ still presented a systematic issue of pregnant overseas Kiwis locked out of returning to give birth.

"On the flip side, that system has also saved thousands of lives. There have been no easy answers through this period and I think we've all known that they've been very tough calls," Ardern said. 

It's caused havoc and heartbreak in thousands of lives too.

Rikki Sands and his family sold their house in Australia and had booked to fly back on January 17, before the Government pulled back down the Omicron border drawbridge. They have just had an emergency application for MIQ declined too.

"It's just soul-destroying to be honest," Sands told Newshub. "We ticked every box. I've got work lined up in New Zealand waiting for me. We're homeless. I've got a disabled daughter."

The Prime Minister is due to announce on Thursday how the Government plans on opening the border - giving Kiwis abroad a date to look forward to.

"What we have to do is make sure we've got a system that actually says, what's the risk from overseas relative to New Zealand, and how can we balance both?" she said. 

The uncertainty is the hardest.

Newshub understands the Government will stick with its end of February promise to allow Kiwis back from Australia with self-isolation rather than the MIQ. 

The original plan saw us opening to Kiwis across the rest of the globe about a month after we open up to Australia. It sounds like they might do that more quickly this time with only a couple of weeks behind the Kiwis in Australia.  

The Government will also be aware of industries crying out for migrant workers, so keep an ear out for an announcement around getting visa holders in as well as Kiwis. 

That date offers hope for Rikki Sands. 

"If I knew we had to struggle for three weeks to get home, we can deal with that, but when you're struggling not knowing how long you've got that struggle for."