Exemptions from managed isolation

People entering New Zealand must stay in managed isolation or quarantine to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Only a small group of people are exempt from being in managed isolation, such as aircrew and maritime crew.

Managed isolation is our best defence

Managed isolation is an important part of keeping COVID-19 out of New Zealand. If you are entering New Zealand, you must stay in managed isolation or quarantine for a minimum 14 days and test negative for COVID-19 before you can go into the community. A small group of people may be exempt from managed isolation as per the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order 2020.

COVID-19 Public Health Response Order 2020(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

We need to balance your exemption request with the importance of keeping COVID-19 out of our communities – we can’t allow any undue health risk.

The need to protect the New Zealand public from COVID-19 is our primary consideration.

Exemptions are rare

Exemptions are approved in very few circumstances. Applications for exemptions from managed isolation 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 very low.

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

If you are given an exemption to leave managed isolation, you will still need to complete a minimum 14 days of isolation from the time you arrived in New Zealand. Infection Prevention and Control measures and a self-isolation plan also need to be in place.

Exemptions for exceptional circumstances, such as to visit a dying relative are only approved when the public health risk is assessed to be very low and can be managed. In a small number of cases, exemptions are approved for a temporary period and you will need to return to the managed isolation facility to complete your 14 days.

There are no exemptions from quarantine.

No exemption will be possible if you have become symptomatic with COVID-19 during your stay in managed isolation and have been moved to a quarantine hotel.

How we assess an application

We encourage you to apply as soon you are aware of your situation. This allows more time for your application to be assessed. 

Every single exemption request is assessed by the MIQ exemptions team in consultation with health professionals on a case-by-case basis.

  • The key factor in assessing an exemption request is the public health risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the community.
  • Generally, negative day 3 and day 12 COVID-19 tests and a full health assessment are needed in order to consider an exemption application.
  • It may be harder to get an exemption if you leave from, or have recently been to, a country where the COVID-19 health risks are high.
  • The more information you give us, the better we can understand your situation and be assured you have a plan in place for isolation.
  • If you are applying to isolate in a place other than a managed isolation facility, you will need to submit a detailed plan on how you propose to complete your 14 days of isolation to ensure you do not come into contact with others.
  • Provide details of how you will organise transport to get to your place of isolation, how you will organise any supplies you may need and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Complying with the conditions of your exemption release plan is an important factor. 

Applications are processed based on urgency and within 5–7 working days. We’ll contact you to let you know the outcome of your application, or if we need more information.

The final decision is made either by Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine or by the MBIE Deputy Chief Executive for Managed Isolation and Quarantine.

Strict conditions for granting an exemption

Your application will only be granted if there are exceptional reasons for leaving the facility. Your application will likely be declined if:

  • you or anyone you’re isolating with have COVID-19 symptoms
  • you or anyone you’re isolating with is in a quarantine facility
  • you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19
  • you were on the same flight as someone that has tested positive for COVID-19
  • we cannot mitigate the public health risk of COVID-19 spreading through your proposed activities.

Who can apply?

Anyone returning to New Zealand can apply for an exemption.

Exemptions will only be issued in very limited circumstances for exceptional reasons. Exemptions may be considered for:

  • joining a person in managed isolation
  • transiting through New Zealand
  • medical needs
  • exceptional circumstances.

Joining a person in managed isolation

You can apply to enter a managed isolation facility to join a child or support someone in isolation.

Find out more about an Exemption to join someone in managed isolation.

Transiting through New Zealand

You must apply for a transit exemption if you’re moving through New Zealand to another country, unless you are in New Zealand for less than 72 hours.

Find out more about an Exemption to transit through New Zealand.

Medical needs

The Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities are well equipped to support a range of medical and care requirements. You can apply for a medical exemption if your medical needs cannot be met in the managed isolation facility and if you need hospital-level care.

Find out more about an Exemption for medical reasons.

Exceptional circumstances

Exemptions for exceptional circumstances such as end-of-life visits are approved only in very few instances.

Find out more about an Exemption for exceptional circumstances.

Related information

Charges for managed isolation has information about about waivers for charges.

Last updated: 09 September 2020