Concerned Kiwis in India are full of questions ahead of New Zealand’s temporary suspension on travel from the country, which comes into force this Sunday.

A number of worried people have contacted the Herald since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardernannounced the measure, in response to a surge in Covid cases among travellers from the country.

Of the 23 new Covid cases in managed isolation announced today, 17 had arrived from India and four were historical.

The temporary suspension will remain in place until April 28.

One man told the Herald his wife was booked to travel from Mumbai to New Zealand on April 21 and he wasn’t sure what the suspension meant for her MIQ booking.

“There is no clarification if she will get a priority in MIQ after 28th April. What do we do with the MIQ book[ing]?”

A permanent New Zealand resident, who had been in India since December last year, is due to travel to New Zealand in two weeks with his wife.

“I am so stressed, what should I do now?”

Another woman is due to travel with her son to New Zealand after the travel suspension end date of April 28, but is concerned about what would happen if the suspension were to be extended.

“Me and my son, who is a citizen, are flying to New Zealand on 14th May. We have already booked managed isolation and even our tickets.

“If NZ extends our ban, it is definitely unfair to us as we will lose [our] managed isolation booking as well as ticket money, which is a huge loss.”

Community response

India New Zealand Business Council chairman Sameer Handa said he could see it was a good idea to protect the borders but believed suspending flights from only one country was a bad idea.

“Singling out India is not going to look good from a bilateral relations and trade point of view,” he said.

Handa questioned why it was only India when there had also been an explosion of cases in the US, Brazil and parts of Europe.

Ardern said today the Government would be looking at risks posed by other Covid hotspot countries as well.

Handa believed the suspension would have an effect on all aspects of the relationship between the two countries, including trade, business, sport, tourism and education.

President of the Waitākere Indian Society Sunil Kaushal feared the decision would affect New Zealand’s brand.

“I think anything to protect the team of 5 million is always good however we would like to see the same rule being applied to the global Kiwis that are coming back. The UK strain is pretty nasty but we have people coming back from that area without anything imposed.”

While numbers were climbing in India the number of cases was not out of proportion when you considered it was a country of a billion people, he said.

“My question for the Prime Minister is, why didn’t we do this when the UK strain emerged and we had people coming back?”

He questioned whether the Government had lost faith in the MIQ system if they deemed a suspension necessary.

“This will affect the brand New Zealand overseas as well,” Kaushal said.

Auckland Indian Association president Narendrabhai Bhana said he had no problem with the Government’s decision to temporarily suspend flights from India.

“We do realise that there are a large number of Covid cases in India at the moment,” he said. “It’s for the safety of our Kiwi citizens.

“We really have no problem with the New Zealand Government suspending flights from India until we can get on top of it.”

New Zealand Indian Central Association vice president Prakash Birader said we had to be careful to keep New Zealand safe but believed the mandatory 14 days in managed isolation or quarantine on arrival was enough.

“On one side we are opening our border to Australia but we are stopping Indians coming in.”


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