New Zealanders are being strongly urged to return from overseas holidays while "commercial options remain available" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade made the announcement on Wednesday following the confirmation of four new COVID-19 cases, bringing New Zealand's total to 12 as of Tuesday.
New Zealanders are advised to avoid all non-essential travel overseas due to the outbreak, its associated health risks and the surge in travel restrictions being implemented globally.
The stringent restrictions are leading to vast reductions in passenger numbers, SafeTravel warns, meaning many airlines will not remain commercially viable for long.
"The options for New Zealanders to get home are reducing dramatically," said the statement.
"We are therefore urging New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider returning home as soon as possible.
"We encourage New Zealanders overseas who intend to come home to take advantage of the window that currently exists. Travelling New Zealanders should work with their travel agents and airlines in the first instance to discuss options for returning home."
SafeTravel advises overseas New Zealanders, or New Zealanders preparing to go overseas, to:
- be aware of the self-isolation process
- register with Healthline upon arrival
- be prepared for your travel insurance to be affected
- contact your travel insurer with questions and concerns about whether the insurance policy covers any COVID-19 related expenses
- ensure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays
- carefully consider the need to travel overseas at this time
- reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time or contact your travel agent or cruise operator for specific information
- defer any non-essential overseas travel.
Everyone returning or travelling to New Zealand as of Monday (excluding from the Pacific Islands) is required to self-isolate for the 14 day quarantine period.
New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are requested to register with Healthline upon arrival and undertake two weeks of self-isolation starting from their date of departure. The 14 day self-isolation period also applies to all overseas visitors.
All foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China and Iran are prohibited from entering New Zealand.
At this time, people returning from the Pacific Islands don't have to self-isolate if they are feeling well.