Exemptions from managed isolation

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

Managed isolation and quarantine is an important part of New Zealand’s border measures to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand.

Media please note – we are unable to comment on individual cases without a privacy waiver from the individual/s concerned.

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.

However, 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 at least 14 days, complete a health assessment and return a negative COVID-19 test before they can go into the community. Ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders during this global pandemic is critical.

Decisions on exemptions from managed isolation are made with the health and safety of the New Zealand public at the forefront.

All applications are assessed on a case by case basis. People can apply for an exemption from having to stay in managed isolation, or have a temporary pass out but the threshold is extremely high and exemptions are rare.

This is because as a key factor in assessing any application is the public health risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the community. If applicants are considered too high risk for spreading COVID-19, or it is deemed that the risk cannot be appropriately managed, the application will be declined.

Exemptions under the exceptional circumstances category

MIQ exemptions under the exceptional circumstances category cover requests such as the death of a family member (where the applicant wishes to have a private viewing), or to visit a terminally ill relative, or for other exceptional reasons.

The key factor in assessing an exceptional circumstances exemption application is the public health risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the community.

Applications for release from managed isolation are considered on a case-by-case basis based on urgency and within 5-7 working days.

This timeframe includes obtaining input from Medical Officers of Health and other agencies. 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.

However, exemptions are approved only in exceptional circumstances and where we can be confident that the public health risk will be properly managed.

When considering applications for exemption from managed isolation a number of factors are considered, including the country the person has come from, the number of countries they travelled through to get to New Zealand, the number of airports they transited through, the work they may have been involved in before coming to New Zealand, and where and who they intend to visit on release.

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 12 testing are also required.

Last updated: 26 May 2021