New Zealand to charge some travelers for coronavirus quarantine to ease burden on taxpayers

Quarantine costs have already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars

New Zealand plans to begin charging some travelers for their coronavirus quarantine costs when they enter the country, the government said Tuesday.

Taxpayers have been footing the cost of isolating travelers at a hotel to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The total has already amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars.

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The government said the new plan will affect only those leaving the country after the costs are imposed and then choose to return, or for those staying in New Zealand for less than 90 days, according to the Guardian.

Under the new law, adults who leave or enter the country for short holidays or business trips will be required to pay about 3,100 New Zealand dollars ($2,100) toward their quarantine costs.

Passengers wait to board their flight at Christchurch Airport in Christchurch, New Zealand on May 14. New Zealand’s government says it will rush through new laws to allow some people to be charged for their border quarantine costs. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

Passengers wait to board their flight at Christchurch Airport in Christchurch, New Zealand on May 14. New Zealand’s government says it will rush through new laws to allow some people to be charged for their border quarantine costs. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

“This solution balances the rights of New Zealanders to return home, while ensuring those who choose to holiday here, or holiday overseas before returning home, are contributing to the considerable cost of managed isolation,” Housing Minister Megan Woods told reporters.

But there will be many exceptions to the new fees, and officials acknowledge it will affect less than 10 percent of travelers.

Temporary visa holders will be charged, while New Zealand citizens returning home permanently will avoid all payments, the government said.

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Although New Zealand hasn’t had any community transmission of COVID-19 for three months, fears over a virus resurgence have led to strict quarantine rules in the nation of 5 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.