Hope and bitterness among New Zealanders stranded abroad: the country will open its borders after almost two years

Photo of an Air New Zealand Boeing 767 before take off at Auckland International Airport (New Zealand). EFE / DAVID WHITE (EFEM0396 /)

New Zealanders stranded abroad and desperate to go home They went through a moment of great emotion with the announcement that they will be able to return in early 2022, and also with the novelty of being able to avoid the mandatory isolation system administered by the government. However, not everyone is happy to face another summer separated from their loved ones.

The country will reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors in the first months of 2022 for the first time since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the rapid closure in the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country’s borders have been closed to unrestricted travel for almost two years.

The border will open initially to New Zealand citizens and visa holders coming from Australia, then to the rest of the world, and finally to all other visitors vaccinated from the end of April. They will still have to do mandatory isolation at their homes for a week, but They will no longer have to go through the country’s limited and expensive managed isolation facilities.

“As soon as I read the date of February 13, 2022 that the [aislamiento administrado] for kiwis in ‘higher risk’ places, I started crying ”, Lara Iriarte said. Iriarte left New Zealand for what was supposed to be a short trip in February 2020, but was left stranded in Panama City as the pandemic unfolded and New Zealand’s borders were closed. It is still in Central America and you haven’t seen your child since January of last year.

FILE PHOTO: A person with a mask walks in front of a store window that reads
FILE PHOTO: A person wearing a mask walks past a store window that reads “Welcome Back” in English in Auckland, New Zealand, on November 10, 2021. REUTERS / Fiona Goodall (FIONA GOODALL /)

Sherryl Clark, who is in Victoria, Australia, said: “Hear that we are not going to have to spend the seven days in [aislamiento administrado] it’s such brilliant news. “

“We have been trying to return to New Zealand for more than 12 months, and it seems that our life has been stopped endlessly. Not just with New Zealand’s entry restrictions, but the closings in Victoria, which have meant selling our house and getting organized, have also been delayed month after month“.

Clark said he tried to secure a spot in the solitary lottery administered six times and eventually won a spot when the government changed the isolation requirements to seven days starting Nov. 14.

New Zealand achieved a great vaccination campaign.  REUTERS / Simon Watts / File Photo
New Zealand achieved a great vaccination campaign. REUTERS / Simon Watts / File Photo (Simon Watts /)

“Still, the delays have realistically meant that we had to pick a February date, so I have missed two funerals for loved ones, my sister’s 70 and, of course, my first Christmas with my family in more than 15 years “Clark said.

Lisa Stella said her husband, who works in Hong Kong, has been trying to get home since June and has made seven attempts to secure a place in the managed isolation and quarantine system. “Nine minutes after hearing the news, my husband, who works abroad, had a ticket from Hong Kong to New Zealand.”

But for many New Zealanders, the government’s strict border controls and challenging managed isolation system they have permanently damaged their reputation.

“For me [el anuncio] it is absolutely useless and I consider the current restrictions to be completely exaggerated. New Zealand will be 90% vaccinated, as will Australia. It’s time to move on and stop destroying the economy and keeping families apart, and denying New Zealand citizens their right to return to and leave their country. Vanessa Freeman said.

Freeman, a Melbourne-based New Zealand citizen, is desperate to get home and see his family for the summer. “We can’t go home for the holidays, even though working people could possibly have the work time to spend the seven days in isolation and still see their loved ones.”

  New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Reuters)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Reuters) (POOL New /)

“My son is very close to his cousins ​​in New Zealand, my mother is older and unwell, and I am quite emotionally tired after the last two years. I want to spend Christmas with my loved ones, recover and recharge. “

Freeman said he had initially supported the government’s response to the pandemic and voted for Labor in the 2020 election, but said: “[Ahora] they have lost me and my family ”.

For others, the idea of ​​New Zealand as “home” has been questioned. Ian Fenn, who resides in Austria, said he was surprised that New Zealand could “so easily block its own citizens”And said about the border announcement: “I think it’s long overdue, but my confidence in my home country and New Zealanders has changed forever, for the worse.”

Sharelle Govignon-Sweet said: “I didn’t even jump for joy. The damage has already been done, in regards to my feelings towards “home” and what that means to me now.

“In short, our nation left us out and the population kept quiet about it, which hints that there was an unspoken agreement between the two. Combined with a lack of empathy or compassion for what those of us locked up go through, all of this has changed me forever. “.


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