New Zealanders eager to be reunited with loved ones trying to return home say it is cruel to give MIQ rooms to people vacationing abroad, and the government should help with Covid-19 pre-departure tests.
Arrivals Hall at Auckland Airport on April 19Source: 1 NEWS
Some New Zealanders abroad say it’s ridiculous that people going on holiday abroad are just as likely to get a room in managed isolation as those trying to get home for the first time during the pandemic.
RNZ has been approached by people who were frustrated with the difficulty of getting a hotel room.
One woman said her daughter will not be able to go home after two and a half years in London due to the high demand for rooms.
However, she said her son’s boyfriend had just secured a spot and will therefore be leaving New Zealand for an overseas holiday soon.
Another in California said hundreds of people desperately want to go home, but athletes receive priority treatment and have no trouble getting in.
Call for refunds for pre-departure testing
A New Zealand citizen living in Australia is calling on the government to reimburse families who pay for Covid-19 tests before departure but then disrupt their travel.
Ashwin Naidu is an admin of a travel bubble group on Facebook and said a test can cost $120 or more, and the price to test an entire family can quickly add up.
He said it was unfair that some people had to undergo repeated tests before departure due to border changes.
‘Green flights’ intended to repatriate people from New South Wales were set to begin on Saturday, but on Friday the New Zealand government announced that flights would be postponed until the government was sure the state’s outbreak was under control.
“People have paid for their pre-departure tests to go from Sydney to New Zealand over the past few days from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“So now all those tests have been invalidated because the flights have all been cancelled.”
Naidu said that move meant that many potential returnees would have to retake their tests later.
He said the government should allow people to use the free tests available in Australia, or reimburse the testing costs.
“Some of these are real people who have come here on vacation and now their flights have been canceled many times and now they have had to spend even more money, and they want to go back to go home, to their country, to be home with their families. in New Zealand.”
The added costs of extended stays in Australia and canceled flights could put people under financial strain, he said. And he had started a petition asking the government to refund pre-departure tests that had to be declared invalid.
Sydney lockdown ‘weird loose’ – stranded traveler
A New Zealander trapped in Sydney has told RNZ the city’s lockdown is not strict and is comparable to between warning levels 2 and 3 in New Zealand.
Alice Murray traveled to Australia on an urgent matter and was due to return home on Sunday before the green flights were canceled late Friday afternoon.
She said she now doesn’t know if she should wait for the Sydney cases to clear up, or if she should bite the bullet and return to do a mandatory 14 days in MIQ. And she was concerned that restrictions had been relaxed in the city.
“The government says you shouldn’t go out unless you need to do essentials like grocery shopping, but you can still go and buy a hoodie from Rip Curl, it’s just so weird.
“We haven’t heard from Air New Zealand yet about what the process will be in terms of getting a flight, going into MIQ etc. It’s hard to know if we should wait and see if the number of cases drops and they get green flights recover or if it just got completely out of hand and we just need to get on the first flight we can.”
Murray said it was yet to be seen whether new, stricter restrictions would be enforced in NSW.
The numbers in the state are on the rise, on Saturday they reported 50 new cases from the past 24 hours, and Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian warned the outbreak was expected to get worse before the number could plummet.