Foreigners stranded in New Zealand will be able to leave the country from Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters on Thursday announced the plan to enable the “safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands” of stranded foreign nationals.
“When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the government rightly prioritised public health, and limited the movement of people so as to restrict the spread of Covid-19.
“But it is clear that many foreign nationals travelling here do not have the resources or capability to adequately self-isolate, and wish to return home.
“We have taken the time and care to develop a seriously detailed plan for the exit of foreign nationals, without endangering the lives of others,” he said.
Under the managed exit plan, foreign governments will be able to organise charter flights to repatriate their citizens, but only if they can satisfy New Zealand health requirements.
Foreign nationals returning home will be able to travel within New Zealand so long as they have a confirmed and scheduled international flight out of the country.
Peters said the public health and economic considerations of New Zealand and New Zealanders was paramount in the decision to facilitate the managed exit of stranded foreign nationals.
“We are conscious that returning foreign nationals to their home countries will reduce the potential pressure on health services in New Zealand, and reduce the risk of welfare issues developing for those people who are stranded and unable to afford to be here much longer,” he added.
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.
“All passengers will also be required to complete any health requirements as necessary at their airport of departure,” Peters said.
More flights will be provided between New Zealand and Europe, with the New Zealand government approving a second daily flight from Doha to Auckland by Qatar Airways.
Peters asked foreign nationals to contact their embassy or high commission for further advice.
New Zealand has 797 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Thursday afternoon, with a rise of 89 new cases in 24 hours.
One person has died of the illness in New Zealand.
More than 26,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out, the government said.