The New Zealand Government is set to enter into bilateral transit arrangements that aim to make it easier for Kiwis to get home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the announcement will mean one less hurdle for the millions of people stranded around the world by COVID-19.
"One barrier to New Zealanders getting home at present is the transit restrictions imposed by a number of countries. We continue to seek assistance from these countries to enable New Zealanders to transit through their airports in order to come home."
It won't just be Kiwis travelling home that will benefit from the new agreements.
"New Zealand has received an increasing number of requests from foreign governments to allow the transit through Auckland of their nationals, including those currently in Pacific Island countries, so that they can connect with commercial or evacuation flights to their home countries," Peters said.
"We will be adopting a strict criteria in determining who can transit New Zealand, which protects public health and meets New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level four requirements."
Requirements for those transiting through airports:
- They must remain airside - meaning they cannot pass through customs or immigration
- Their connecting flight must be within a maximum of 10 hours of their arrival
- They must have no COVID-19 symptoms or be awaiting test results
- They must not have had any contact with a suspected or confirmed case
- They must have confirmation from their airline that they will be permitted to board for their entire journey – as well as confirmation prior to boarding that their destination country will permit arrival
On March 25, Aotearoa's airports were closed to transiting passengers from all countries except Australia.
The new decision opens up the potential for foreign nationals from around the world to pass through New Zealand, without entering the country or having contact with locals.