New Zealand to limit returning citizens as quarantine facilities fill up

epa08058242 A screengrab of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressing the media following a volcanic eruption at Whakaari/White Island, off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, 09 December 2019. One person is dead, several are injured and others are missing after the volcano New Zealand's Whakaari, or White Island, volcano erupted. EPA-EFE/DANIEL HICKS NO ARCHIVING AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

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New Zealand said on Tuesday its national airline will not take new bookings for three weeks as the country looks to limit the number of citizens returning home to reduce the burden on overflowing quarantine facilities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens globally, thousands of New Zealanders are returning to South Pacific nation, which is among a handful of countries to have contained the coronavirus, re-opened its economy and restored pre-pandemic normalcy.

Bookings on Air New Zealand flights will be managed to ensure the government can safely place citizens into managed isolation facilities, Housing Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.

“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens,” Woods said.

“The last thing we need are hastily set up facilities to meet demand.”

The government is also talking to other airlines about managing flows, she said.

New Zealand‘s borders are still shut to foreigners, and citizens and permanent residents have to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

The country has nearly 6,000 people in 28 managed isolation facilities and was planning to scale up more spaces to manage demand in coming weeks.

via Reuters

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