NZ to drop five countries from ‘very high risk’ list

Corazon Miller
Source: 1News

New Zealand residents living in Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, India and Fiji will be able to fly directly into the country, without the need to spend 14 days in a third country from December.

The arrivals area at Auckland Airport.

These countries are being removed off the ‘very high risk’ list – the only country to stay on the list is Papua New Guinea.

More details on this are expected at the 1pm Covid-19 press conference.

In April, as the Delta variant tore through India the decision was made to block all arrivals – including citizens - from NZ.

A fortnight later, citizens were allowed to return, but the ban on residents flying direct from India continued for months. Kiwi residents trying to come back here had to spend 14 days in another country first. Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Fiji were also added to the list in the subsequent weeks.

In July, the Ministry of Health concluded the Covid situation in India, Pakistan and Brazil had improved and the risk was lower, but it’s taken till now for them to review how to better manage this.

Immigration adviser Katy Armstrong said the situation has not been fair for some time.

Armstrong has worked with hundreds of New Zealand residents who have been stuck offshore for months, many who have had to go home to deal with family emergencies.

“I’ve been dealing with people, for example, who are worried about not getting back in, losing pensions, losing jobs, losing homes and running out of money.

“I think it’s quite clear that it’s not following the science,” Armstrong said. “The advice is that there is no longer any reason for them to be zoned in the way that they are.”

She said other countries had removed India from their high risks lists some time ago.

“You’ve got arguably higher risk now in Auckland than by travelling in through the border from India. It’s very much not fair.”

She said the process was damaging New Zealand’s reputation.

“We, as New Zealanders, have to understand that our health workforce comes from overseas and predominantly from countries like India,” she said.

“We need to be thinking more smartly about how to facilitate people coming in, instead of continuously blocking their pathway. Otherwise we are losing people, good people with skills that we desperately need.”