NZ deporting tourists who fail to self-isolate

By | March 17, 2020

Two people who arrived in New Zealand from South East Asia and failed to self-isolate will be kicked out of the country, the NZ Herald reports.

The pair had put New Zealanders at risk and were being removed from the country, Immigration NZ said.

INZ compliance and verification general manager Stephen Vaughan said the tourists’ behaviour was unacceptable.

“This kind of behaviour is completely irresponsible and will not be tolerated which is why these individuals have been made liable for deportation,” he said.

“They are currently being quarantined. If they fail to depart after quarantine, they will be arrested and detained under the Immigration Act.”

The New Zealand Government’s travel restrictions, which took effect at 1:00am Monday, require all international travellers arriving in this country to self-isolate for 14 days. Only people arriving from the Pacific are exempt.

“Being deported has serious consequences. It means individuals will be banned from returning to New Zealand for a period of time and they may also find it difficult to travel to other countries.”

Mr Vaughan said the Government’s travel restrictions and requirements to self-isolate would help save lives.

“It is important that all travellers to New Zealand abide with those requirements,” he said.

“New Zealand is going hard, and going early, to do everything it can to protect New Zealand from COVID-19 and INZ is committed to doing all it can to help protect New Zealand during this uncertain time.”

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Meanwhile a third tourist who arrived in New Zealand yesterday is also facing deportation after officials found she had no clear plans to self-isolate amid escalating coronavirus fears.

The woman checked in to Rucksacker backpackers hostel in Christchurch last night wearing a face mask.

She did not show any flu symptoms nor had she mixed with other hostel residents, it’s understood.

The hostel manager, who asked not to be named, said the woman, who was apparently travelling on her own for a fortnight trip and had a pre-existing booking, was checked in to a private room.

But this morning, Ministry of Health officials arrived at the hostel to question the woman about her self-isolation plans, before police officers showed up to take her away.

“She was a little bit stressed out but she wasn’t creating a scene or anything,” the hostel manager told the Herald.

“I got told that she was being taken to be put on a plane.”

The manager was told by officials that the woman’s self-isolation plans were not thorough enough for her to stay in the country.

The manager did not know what country she had arrived from or where she was being sent to.

“I don’t think she would have contaminated anybody but I guess it’s just a precaution,” she said.

“It was a very eventful morning. It’s a quiet wee hostel, we don’t really get things like this happening. [The other guests] were fine, they were just curious as to what was going on. No-one was panicky or anything.”

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the plan to deport the woman at his daily press conference – and said spot checks on other travellers would start from today.

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“There was a traveller who came in yesterday … who was unwilling to commit to self-isolating for the two-week period, and said her intention was to continue with her travels,” he said.

“That person has been found and still appears to be unwilling. So the intention is therefore to deport that person.”

Dr Bloomfield said the case was unique so far.

“There has been the odd person who has come through and perhaps expressed the view they weren’t going to self-isolate, and they’ve been spoken to and convinced that it is the right thing to do,” he said.

“We are also starting, from today, the spot checks on people who are self-isolating, just to help reassure us and other New Zealanders that people are doing the right thing.”

This story originally appeared on the NZ Herald and has been republished with permission.

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