Exemptions from managed isolation

Information on this page can be attributed to a managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson.

Media please note – we are unable to comment on individual cases without a privacy waiver from the individual/s concerned. This can be an email from them granting permission.

Decisions on exemptions from managed isolation are not easy ones to make and we are very sympathetic to the distressing situations people applying for exemption from managed isolation are in. 

We need to balance each individual application with our critical work to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders. 

People entering New Zealand must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for 10 days, complete a health assessment and return a negative COVID-19 test before they can go into the community. 

Exemptions from managed isolation are approved in very few circumstances. Applications for exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis and the threshold for approval is very high. An exemption will only be approved where we can be confident that the health risk of transmission is low. 

Most exemptions are granted for people to join unaccompanied minors, people in transit, or people whose medical needs require hospital-level care. 

We collect evidence from medical professionals, and in some cases seek independent medical advice.

Applications for early release or temporary release under exceptional circumstances are evaluated using a public health risk assessment tool provided by the Ministry of Health. MIQ decision makers have no ability to override the tool and grant an exemption where the tool designates an applicant as too high risk for approval. This tool was recently revised to take vaccination status into account and has been applied to exemption applications from 29 October. 

The risk assessment considers a number of factors, including the risk level of the country the person has come from, the duration of exemption, and if released, how many people they will come into contact with. 

Day of stay is incredibly important in the risk analysis, the risk to the community decreasing as testing results across a stay are received.

Exemptions under the exceptional circumstances category

Exemptions for exceptional circumstances, such as to visit a dying relative, are only approved when the public health risk is assessed to be low. In a small number of cases, exemptions are approved for a temporary period and the applicant will need to return to the managed isolation facility to complete their managed isolation.

Our Exemptions team work 7 days a week to ensure that applications are turned around as quickly as possible, and the distressing situations facing some of the people who apply are not ignored.

Medical isolation exemptions

All medical isolation exemption applications are carefully assessed by an independent and external health advisor, to determine whether the medical needs of the applicant can be supported within a managed isolation facility. The final decision ultimately rests with the appropriate delegated authority in MIQ. 

People can apply for a medical exemption to isolate at home if their medical needs cannot be met in the managed isolation setting. 

Managed isolation facilities are equipped to handle most medical needs, unless hospital admission is required. This includes access to kaupapa Māori services. 

Our dedicated on-site medical staff can support a range of care requirements, including phone or in-person consultations with a general practitioner (GP) and assistance with any prescribed medications. A comprehensive plan will be developed to support them in their room and meet their dietary requirements.  

If a returnee were to isolate at home a compliance plan would need to be signed. Police would make require checks to confirm travellers are complying with their self-isolation instructions, daily health checks and day 0/1 (if required), 3 and 5/6 and 8/9 testing are also required.

Last updated: 22 December 2021