25 Mar 2020

Thousands of Brits trying to leave NZ

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:40 pm on 25 March 2020

There could be up to 20,000 British nationals in New Zealand who want to get home, the British High Commission says.

Laura Clarke, the British High Commissioner in New Zealand, told Jesse Mulligan these were British nationals on tourist or temporary visas.

UK High Commissioner in New Zealand Laura Clarke.

Laura Clarke Photo: Supplied

Clarke said the High Commission had set up a self-registration system yesterday and in a day 4000 people had left their details.

“That number is going to climb, and we are doing our best to provide information and support to all Brits at this really quite worrying and uncertain time.”

She urged British nationals to go the UK in New Zealand Facebook page to find details of how to register.

People who register will get daily information from the High Commission, she said.

“We then can send out daily updates in terms of what we know about commercial routes, what we are doing to support people and also guidance on complying with New Zealand's Covid response.”

The High Commission is going through the data to establish high need cases, Clarke said.

“The people who are most vulnerable, with serious medical conditions or the elderly so that we can get urgent assistance for them.”

It’s a huge task not helped by the fact there are so few options to get people home, she said.

“There are very, very few options. Because lots of commercial airlines are discontinuing their routes, transit hubs are getting harder. So, we are working really hard with commercial airlines and also with governments, and with the governments of transit hubs such as Singapore, to get commercial airlines going again, because our top priority is to get people who want to go home, home.”

Some Brits in New Zealand may need to find temporary accommodation, she said.

“Even you know if it's just for a few days just to bide their time while we work on the flights option.”

Although New Zealand has fewer cases of Covid-19 than the UK she understood why some would nevertheless want to make the journey home.

“There are no easy answers to this, because going home to the UK is also not home as we know it because you have to self-isolate.

“So it is a very uncertain time and our normal concepts of where is safe and easy to come, somehow don't really apply right now.”

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