Foreign Minister Winston Peters is encouraging the tens of thousands of New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider sheltering where they are, rather than trying to return home.
“Since 18 March, we have been warning New Zealanders offshore that the window for flying home was closing,” Peters said.
“A week later, it has now almost completely closed.
“It has become very difficult to return to New Zealand from all around the world.
“Many of the hubs we usually rely on to get home are no longer available, as countries such as Singapore prevent transits by foreign nationals through their airports. We must recognise that measures like these are part of the international effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.”
“We are reaching a point where the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are. This includes following the instructions of the local authorities and the advice of the World Health Organisation.
“Those few Kiwis who still have the option to return to New Zealand should continue to work with their airlines to seek flights as a matter of absolute urgency.
“The feasibility of Government-assisted departure flights is being considered, but there are no guarantees these will be possible in the extremely complex and rapidly changing global situation.”
Peters said the Government remains committed to helping New Zealanders overseas and consular assistance will be provided wherever possible. All New Zealanders overseas should register their details on SafeTravel, and review the website regularly for the most up to date advice for New Zealanders overseas.
There were 40 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Tuesday, and three probable cases.
This brings the total number of confirmed and probable cases up to 155.