1 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Jacinda Ardern says repatriation of foreign nationals will take a while under lockdown

6:54 am on 1 April 2020

The prime minister says New Zealand is willing to help thousands of people from overseas get back to their own countries, but doing it under lockdown may take a bit longer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 31, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Pool / Getty Images

The British newspaper, The Times, is reporting the New Zealand government "rebuffed efforts by Britain to help to repatriate 6000 UK citizens marooned by the crisis".

The story said Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, had spoken to Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, "to request assistance in bringing home visiting Britons, among them at least 40 doctors".

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Jacinda Ardern said Peters had passed on the message New Zealand "absolutely understands the desire to repatriate" those still in this country.

"Be they citizens from the UK or Germany, what we're working through right now is a plan that enables us to do that, whilst not affecting negatively other New Zealanders who are in lockdown," Ardern said.

The obstacle, she said, was trying to get people "scattered through the country" to the airport they needed to get to, without endangering others who had to comply with lockdown rules.

"So we're just taking a couple of days to work through the logistics, make sure it's as seamless as possible, and as smooth as possible.

"From what I understand, people are absolutely understanding of the position we're in, we want to look after their foreign nationals, but we also want to look after New Zealanders who may be needed to assist to get them out," she said.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs