COVID-19: Kiwis in Australia stranded after Govt decision to delay border reopening

The Government's decision to delay the start of non-MIQ international travel has left some Kiwis in Australia stranded. 

COVID-19 Response minister Chris Hipkins announced on Tuesday the border reopening to Australia was delayed from January 17 to the end of February.

New Zealanders Rikki Sands and his family are about to be homeless after the Kiwis sold their house in Australia and were due to fly over the ditch on January 17. 

"We're at a point of 'wow, where are we and what do we do'," Sands told Newshub. "We haven't even comprehended it at the moment." 

Lillian and Roger Lodewyk are also desperate to get home to New Zealand.

"This is just too much to take," Lillian told Newshub.  

Until Tuesday, Kiwis arriving from Australia after January 16 could self isolate at home instead of going through the MIQ lottery. 

The Lodewyks were due to arrive on January 20, after months of being stuck in Australia. Now that won't happen until at least the end of February.

"It's just a kick in the guts again, basically that's what it is," Lillian said.

This is all because Omicron has thrown a spanner in the works.

"Cabinet has decided to push back the date for self-isolation for those travelling from Australia from January 17th to the end of February so we can accelerate the roll-out of the booster programme," Hipkins said. "I'm sorry we can't meet that particular deadline or target.

But it's welcome news for epidemiologist Michael Baker, who's been calling for MIQ to stay put. 

"New Zealand is amongst a small number of countries doing that and I think it is giving benefits to New Zealand," he said.

Baker believes a better 'red list' of countries with a high number of Omicron cases and travellers here is needed.   

"At the moment, the list we have is out of date. It has nine southern African states, I don't know if we're getting many travellers from those countries at all." 

Watch the full story above.