New Zealand and COVID-19 Virus. UPDATE June 26

In this blog we provide updates on the New Zealand response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and some news stories about what's happening in New Zealand after an easing of their travel restrictions.

June 26

Even in the darkest of times, there's always a place for a story to make us smile. 

A week ago, in an attempt to embarrass the government, the leader of the opposition in the New Zealand parliament was questioning the efficiencies of the people in charge of quarantine arrangements for people arriving from overseas.

His allegation, "from a very reliable source", remains unproven, but worthy of being repeated.

As he tells it, 2-weeks ago, a group of new overseas arrivals were taken by coach from Auckland Airport to their designated hotel, the luxury five-star Crowne Plaza in the city. This was where they were to spend their 2-weeks of compulsory (and free) covid-19 quarantine.

On arrival at the hotel they were told to form a queue before being assigned a room number and given their room key.

The resulting queue spilt over to into the street. 

A homeless man who happened to be standing on the footpath decided it might be a good idea if he also joined the queue. Which he did.

Just like everyone in the queue he was given a room number and room key. 

After 2-weeks of luxury accommodation, 3-free meals a day and regular covid-19 checks, he was advised that he was virus-free and could leave. He was asked for a forwarding address, only to tell the official that he didn’t have one because he was homeless. Only then did the alarm bells start ringing.

Our resourceful homeless man is being widely praised as a national hero!

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One of Auckland's finest - The luxury Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Latest Statistics: - At 26 June There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. All have been identified during their quarantine after arriving from overseas and are now in an isolation facility. No new cases have reported in the general population.

June 22

There have been no changes to the regulations concerning Covid-19, however arrival and quarantines procedures have been further strengthened.

There are two new Covid-19 cases, a man in his 20's who arrived on June 19 from India, and a man in his 20's who arrived on June 18 from the US. Both were identified during their time in quarantine, so were never exposed to the general population. They have now been taken to a more secure and isolated facility.

The two new cases take the country's active case count to 10.

June 17, 2020

Two sisters from England, traveling on compassionate grounds, to attend the funeral of their parents in Wellington, were yesterday confirmed as carrying Covid-19. These are the first New Zealand cases reported for 24 days.

On arrival in New Zealand they spent some days in quarantine in Auckland, but were released earlier than the usual 2-weeks to travel to Wellington for the funeral.

Their movements and the people they might have been in contact with after leaving quarantine were closely monitored and the New Zealand authorities are confident that this isolated incident will be quickly contained.

June 8, 2020

From midnight last night (Monday June 8 New Zealand time) New Zealand moved to coronavirus Alert Level-1.

This means life returning to something approximating a pre-coronavirus normal. Social distancing measures and restrictions on mass gatherings no longer apply, although strict border controls would still be in force, meaning that only New Zealand Citizens, permanent residents and their legal partners can enter New Zealand.

Full details of the COVID-19 Alert Level-1 conditions can be found on the official New Zealand Government website - 

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19/coronavirus-update-inz-response.

Isolation requirements for all international arrivals into New Zealand remain in place.

  • All travellers entering New Zealand on flights will be required to complete fourteen days of isolation in a managed facility (hotels). Under current border restrictions only New Zealand Citizens, Permanent Residents and their legal partners can enter New Zealand. 
  • Every passenger entering New Zealand will continue to be screened for COVID-19 on arrival.
  • If a passenger is symptomatic on arrival, they will be tested and placed in an approved quarantine facility for 14 days.
  • All other passengers will be placed in local managed isolation accommodation, which has been approved for isolation for 14 days. They will be transported there directly from the airport.
  • They will have regular contact with the government repatriation team who will coordinate all movement and welfare support
  • Appropriate isolation will be arranged in hotels by the New Zealand Government.
  • No end date has been set for managed isolation requirements when entering New Zealand.

Air New Zealand remains the only airline operating between North American and New Zealand, currently offering a three times a week service between Los Angeles and Auckland.

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It's autumn in New Zealand.

Emigrating to New Zealand.

From New Zealand newspaper 'Stuff'

"More than 100,000 Americans have looked into moving to New Zealand during the coronavirus pandemic, data from Immigration New Zealand shows.

The number of United States residents viewing the Government's 'New Zealand Now' website between March 23 and May 17 was up 24 per cent on the same time last year, increasing from 84,578 to 105,309.

The website provides information about moving here to work or invest.

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Mt Taranaki, taken from the coastal town of Whanganui, North Island.

It's not the first time the possibility of moving to New Zealand has piqued Americans' interest amid a significant global event.

In the lead up to the 2016 US election many Americans – including US Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg – swore they'd move to New Zealand if Donald Trump won.

However, data from INZ later showed the initial spike in interest among Americans in moving to New Zealand was short-lived and did not translate into more applications for residency visas by Americans.

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Breaksea Sound, Fiordland, South Island.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Jul 08, 2020