The removal of India from the very high-risk countries list leading to easing of restrictions to travel from India has brought smiles and happiness for many Kiwi Indians.

On 23 April 2021, the New Zealand government introduced a new category of ‘very high-risk country,' which included India, Brazil, Pakistan, and Papua New Guinea, to further bolster the country’s defense against Covid-19. And later, on 11 August 2021, Indonesia and Fiji have also added to the list.

Due to India being a very high-risk country, only New Zealand citizens and their immediate families could travel to New Zealand from India. And all others, including NZ residents and Permanent residents, had to spend 14 days in a green zone country before traveling to New Zealand. But according to today's announcement, even the permanent residents and residents who want to travel from India will not have to spend a fortnight in a green zone country before travelling to New Zealand.  It has brought relief to many who want to travel from India or travel from New Zealand to India and then come back to New Zealand.

Giving details around when travellers can enter New Zealand without going into MIQ, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins had said, “It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normalcy. We always said we’d open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days. Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.”

Another cherry on the cake is today’s announcement is that fully vaccinated New Zealanders will find it easier to come home from January 2022, with foreign nationals to follow from April onwards, as the Government removes the requirement for MIQ for most travellers. He further revealed that travellers could enter New Zealand without going into MIQ in a phased manner.   In Step 1, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other eligible travellers will be able to travel without going to MIQ from 17 January 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days). In step 2,  fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other eligible travellers eligible from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 14 February and finally, in Step 3, fully vaccinated foreign nationals (possibly staged by visa category) will be able to come in without spending time in MIQ from 30 April onwards.

The news has delighted Kiwi Indians who want to travel from India and those who have plans to travel to India and then come back to New Zealand. One such Kiwi Indian is Amarpreet Kaur. The 43-year-old Permanent resident of New Zealand had been waiting for the news for months as she intends to travel to India to meet her daughter, who she hasn't seen for the past two years. Talking about her story to Indian Weekender, the mother of two who stays in South Auckland, says, “I can’t express how happy this announcement has made me. My elder daughter Hargun stays in India with my family, and I haven't seen her for two years due to NZ's border closure and strict MIQ policy. As a mother, it pained me beyond words. I had been waiting to go to India to meet her, but the thought of spending two weeks in a third country has been scary, and with a heavy heart, I kept praying for India to be removed as a very high-risk country. I am so relieved that now I can plan my trip easily, and I look forward to meeting her soon.”

 

On the other hand, many Kiwi Indian residents in India can now think of travelling to New Zealand without the hassles of travelling to a third country, which is both financially and mentally draining.

Gurpreet, who is a residence class visa holder but currently in Punjab, has welcomed the news. He says, "I left New Zealand due to a family emergency in August and had been in India since then. Due to the same, I have even lost my job, and I am in a financial mess. Therefore, it is excellent news that I don’t have to come back through a third country as that would save me a lot of money and mental trauma. I had friends who had to travel through a third country, and they told me about the stresses they had to face, be it the food or the language issue. "