Foreigners stranded in New Zealand will start leaving the country from tomorrow.
Tens of thousands of holidaymakers will be able to make a "safe, orderly exit", Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says.
The Government has just announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of scores of foreign nationals stranded in New Zealand under the Covid-19 lockdown.
When New Zealand moved into lockdown last week, the government rightly prioritised public health and sought to limit the movement of people in order to restrict and contain the spread of Covid-19.
This left thousands of foreigners stuck in New Zealand with nowhere else to go as flights were cancelled and borders were closed. It was quite clear that many foreign nationals travelling here do not have the resources or capability to adequately self-isolate or sustain their stay in New Zealand, and wish to return home.
In light of this situation, the government has developed a seriously detailed plan for the exit of foreign nationals, without endangering the lives of others living in New Zealand
Under the managed exit plan:
· Foreign nationals returning home will be considered to be engaging in "essential travel", and therefore able to travel domestically (whether by air or land) when they have a confirmed and scheduled international flight out of New Zealand, subject to requirements which will be set out on www.covid19.govt.nz
· Foreign governments will be allowed to organise charter flights to repatriate their citizens, but only if they can satisfy New Zealand health requirements
· Commercial capacity between New Zealand and Europe will be increased, by New Zealand approving a second daily flight between Doha to Auckland by Qatar Airways.
It is expected that the first foreign government-organised charter flight, operated by Air New Zealand, could leave New Zealand as early as Friday evening.
Commercial options continue to be available to stranded foreign nationals.
The government emphasised that travel restrictions associated with Alert Level 4 would continue to apply for all foreign nationals, except for those travelling to leave the country.
"If you do not have a confirmed international ticket, then you must stay in self-isolation. Stay put and continue to follow Alert Level 4 guidelines and maintain your bubble” said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters
Foreign nationals seeking to leave New Zealand will not be allowed to leave self-isolation to travel if they are at risk of Covid-19.
This includes anyone who:
· Has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
· Has symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
· Is waiting for COVID-19 results;
· Is a close contact of a suspected/probable/confirmed case of COVID-19; or
· Has travelled internationally in the past 14 days.
New Zealanders returning home from overseas will continue to be subject to strict screening and self-isolation requirements; and domestic travel by New Zealanders will continue to be reserved for essential workers only.
"Given that Air New Zealand intends to fly charter flights from New Zealand to Europe for European governments, we will explore the extent to which New Zealanders can return in the planes on the way back" said Peters
All passengers are also required to complete any health requirements as necessary at their airport of departure
Further details are available at www.covid19.govt.nz. Foreign nationals should contact their Embassy or High Commission for further advice.