Frustrated Kiwis stuck overseas are still coming to terms with the fact they will have to wait even longer to return home or be reunited with loved ones after the Government reneged on its plans to start reopening the border from mid-January.

The Herald has been contacted by a number of desperate and heartbroken Kiwis around the world who had booked flights in anticipation of the phased easing of border restrictions from January 17 allowing people to isolate at home.

But the Government’s announcement yesterday to push out its phased border reopening to the end of February has thrown their plans into turmoil.

Yesterday Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the suite of measures, which also include lengthening the stay in MIQ to 10 days for all travellers with no self-isolation component, was aimed at keeping Omicron out of the community for as long as possible.

Auckland-based Michael Hine is dreading having to tell call his 11-year-old son Aiden in the US that he would not be able to move to New Zealand to live with him in March as planned.

The truck driver hasn’t seen his son since December 2019 and has been trying for 18 months to get him into New Zealand, but cannot get him an MIQ spot.

He had been counting on the border restrictions easing in February and was about to a book flight for March.

“This Government has left me broke and now very broken and now how am I going to tell my 11-year old son that he can’t come in March to live and I don’t know when now.”

He knew he wasn’t the only parent who had been separated from their child and questioned how it was fair or justified.

Hine said his son was double vaccinated so didn’t understand why he couldn’t isolate at home with him when others had been allowed.

“It’s cruel and insane.”

Lily Wong and her husband flew to Australia when the bubble was open in July to visit their daughter who is studying in Melbourne. They have been unable to get an MIQ seat to return home since then.

The couple had pinned their hopes on the bubble reopening and as soon home isolation for people travelling from Australia was announced they booked a ticket for January 23.

“It’s really crushing our hearts after the news announced yesterday.”

Wong said the changes were unsettling and she felt consideration should be given to people like them who had already had their booster shots.

A Brisbane-based nurse, who did not want to be named, had booked a flight for January 19 – just days after the MIQ requirements had been due to lift for people travelling from Australia.

She and her husband have given up their jobs and rental property in preparation of returning next month so are unsure what they will do if they can’t secure an MIQ spot.

They also have new jobs, a rental property and a car waiting for them on arrival and their children are also due to start high school and university in New Zealand at the start of next year.

The family of five moved to Australia in August, but it hasn’t worked out so they decided to return home after a relative got sick.

She said it was very frustrating as Brisbane had very few Covid cases and questioned why they should be stopped from coming home.

Countless other stories about Kiwis in Australia unable to get back include a student who had planned to study at Victoria University next year.

Another young woman was forced to can her travel plans to see family in Australia for Christmas after being apart for two years due to fears she would get stuck there if she couldn’t secure a MIQ spot.

Bryan Wrighton woke up this morning to the “horrendous news” and the announcement was even worse for those trapped outside Australia.

Wrighton, who is lives in Queenstown but is stuck in the UK, now has no idea when he would be allowed to quarantine at home.

Although he knew the plans to reopen to Australia had been postponed for six weeks, he wasn’t sure how long those travelling from other countries would have to wait.

He and his wife Laura had travelled to the UK in June to attend their son’s wedding and for a graduation, but had failed to get an MIQ spot after being forced to relinquish their first one.

The costs of being abroad were also clocking up as not only would he stop receiving his pension payments after being away for more than six months, but he had also been told he would have to repay the previous six months if he stayed away for more than seven months.

He also faced having to buy another airline ticket if he couldn’t return by June as it was only valid for one year.

“It’s financially troubling.”


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