Kiwi who flew to India to look after sick mother 'shocked' by Government's travel ban

A Kiwi who flew to India to look after her sick mother is shocked and upset by the Government's decision to temporarily suspend travel.

On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government is suspending arrivals from India until April 28. This will take effect from 4pm on Sunday.

The suspension comes after 17 of New Zealand's 23 most recent managed isolation and quarantine COVID-19 cases arrived in the country from India.

Florence Deepa travelled to Bangalore, India in March to take care of her mother. While she was worried about travelling during the pandemic, she said after hearing the Prime Minister's assurance that citizens and residents wouldn't be blocked from returning, she decided to go. 

But after the Government's change of heart, Deepa is stuck in India and worried she will lose her MIQ space booked for May. 

"I was shocked. I was confused because I understand the decision but… there are no options given to us, there are no alternatives. I don't know what I can do next," she told The AM Show on Friday. 

"I did believe that when the Prime Minister said that she would not stop any New Zealander coming back to the country, I believed that.

"I did everything right. I am part of the five million, I was there when the lockdown happened. I know the loss and the job losses that New Zealanders have had to go through, so I am with it. I'm not saying I don't support the ban… but the decision that was made just came as a surprise."

Deepa wants the Government to provide an alternative or more information for Kiwis who are stuck. 

"I hope this decision is reversed or an alternative is provided as soon as possible because this has caused me unnecessary stress on top of everything else that has been going on. 

"Am I going to be able to come home and what's going to happen to my managed isolation booking? Because I booked in January for May so if that's banned now I don't know when I am coming back." 

She said there is "no way" that she can get back to New Zealand during the suspension. 

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins defended the suspension on Friday morning. 

"It's important to note that this is a temporary restriction and as you've pointed out it's not a decision that we've taken lightly," Hipkins told The AM Show.

"What we've seen in the last few weeks is a real spike in the number of positive cases coming in from India, we are not seeing that from anywhere else in the world." 

He also acknowledged the decision was different from the Government's previous stance on international travel.

"It is a little bit of a change of position. We've always said that we wouldn't stop citizens and residents from coming home - we are not but we've also said that their travel may be delayed or disrupted.

"This is a clear case where their travel is going to be disrupted for a period of time."

He said the suspension is just a part of travelling during a pandemic. 

"We can't sustain the level of positive cases that we have had coming in on a daily basis now for a couple of weeks, we have to do something to change that." 

The Prime Minister has previously ruled out closing the border to New Zealand citizens. 

"No country in the world has barred their citizens from coming home because they legally cannot."