New Zealand Covid-19 Update

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 13th May 2020.
At Alert Level 2,
  • Businesses are allowed to open with safety restrictions.
  • All early learning centres, schools and tertiary institutions have reopened on Monday 18 May 2020.
  • Public facilities such as museums and libraries have reopened with safety restrictions.
  • From 12 noon Friday 29 May, gatherings can be held with up to 100 people.
  • Hygiene standards and contact tracing are required for gatherings.
  • People are instructed to keep their distance from others in public.
Cabinet has agreed to consider moving to Alert Level 1 no later than 22 June.

The New Zealand government have released various policies in correspondence to the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect the health, safety and national interests of citizens, residents and temporary entry class visa holders.

 

Covid-19 – Current Cases in New Zealand – As at 9 am on 29 May 2020

  • There were no confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.
  • There are a total of 1,504 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand
  • 1481 patients (98%) have recovered and 22 people have died
  • 69% of confirmed and probable cases are related to overseas travel or close contacts of those who have travelled, and 31% were locally acquired
  • The number of daily tests completed on average over the past 7 days is 3,658.
  • A total of 275,852 tests have been conducted since 22 January 2020.

 

Temporary class visa holders affected by the coronavirus outbreak

  • Holders of a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 would have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020. All visa holders should have received confirmation of extensions from Immigration New Zealand.

 

Visa Processing Information

  • All Immigration New Zealand (INZ) offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • INZ has begun processing some visa categories for applicants who are already in New Zealand. These include: Visa applications for Victims of Domestic Violence, Partnership category temporary visas (including assessments, Full Fee Paying student visas and Post Study work visas.
  • INZ will not be generally processing application types outside of this list at this time unless urgencies apply

 

Visa condition changes for student visa holders working in essential sectors or the healthcare sector

  • Student visa holders who are employed in an essential services role will be able to work longer hours while New Zealand remains in Alert Level 3 or 4 and for six weeks following. Employers must make a request to vary visa conditions and there are no fees or levies payable for a Variation of Conditions under this special category.
  • Student visa holders employed in an essential health worker role on 3 April 2020 will be able to work more than 20 hours for the period 3 April 2020 to 3 July 2020.

 

Wage Subsidy Scheme for businesses and workers including international students

  • The New Zealand government released its Wage Subsidy Scheme to financial support New Zealand employers and workers who are adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For a 12-week period, qualified employers will receive $585.80 (gross) per week for employees working for 20 hours or more weekly, or $350.00 (gross) per week for employees working for less than 20 hours weekly.
  • The full amount received by employers must be passed on to employees. If an international student was under employment prior to the national lockdown, he or she might be eligible to receive the subsidised wage if meeting requirements. Click the above link to know more about the requirements and scenarios.
  • Employees can make a complaint against their employers fi their employers are receiving wage subsidy but the employees are not paid accordingly.

 

Financial Support for International Students

  • The New Zealand government has established a one million hardship fund to support international students who suffer financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Applications must be submitted by education providers and organisations such as peak bodies and community groups. Individual international students and education agents may not eligible to submit an application.
  • Applications must be made online.
  • The application is opened from 21 May and will be closed until further notice.

 

Border Closures and Travel restrictions into New Zealand

The New Zealand Government closed its border for almost travellers except for New Zealand Citizens and residence visa holders from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020.

Therefore, student visa holders can no longer enter New Zealand until further notice. However, students are expected to study online or remotely. International students should contact their education providers to discuss their learning arrangements.

The Minister of Education announced that the government is looking to reopen the border to enable international students to return to New Zealand to continue with their studies. Plans and details are yet to come.

Limited exceptions will be made to a small group of people who receive approval to travel to New Zealand, including

  • Partners, dependent children (aged 24 years and under) and legal guardians of New Zealand citizens and residents who are travelling together to New Zealand
  • Australian citizens and permanent resident who normally live in New Zealand
  • People with critical purposes in New Zealand

The request to travel to New Zealand must use the Online Exception Request Form.

 

Student visa holders overseas – Deferred study

For international students who are granted student visas but could not travel to New Zealand due to the border closure, if they have deferred their study to later in the year or early 2021, their visas will remain valid over this period and their education providers should notify INZ. Their file will be updated with this information and their visa remains valid and their visa travel conditions still apply.

 

Compulsory isolation requirements for arrivals into New Zealand

  • Prior to 23:59 New Zealand Time on Thursday 9 April 2020, People who are allowed to enter New Zealand are required to register with Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in New Zealand.
  • After 23:59 New Zealand Time on Thursday 9 April 2020, anyone who enters New Zealand, including New Zealand citizens and residence class visa holders, will no longer be able to complete their 14-day isolation period at home. Arrivals assessed as high-risk of COVID-19 will be placed in quarantine facilities, while all other arrivals will be placed in managed isolation facilities.

 

New Zealand government agencies support students for distance learning

New Zealand government agencies are supporting students for distance learning by delivering devices and hard copies of materials to students, broadcasting education-related content via television channels, and creating distance learning resources for parents.

 

Repatriation for foreign nationals including international students

Although New Zealand is in national lockdown, foreign nationals such as international students and tourists are allowed to use private or public transport to travel to Auckland or Christchurch airport to connect with commercial, or chartered, international flights to their home country. Travellers must meet several criteria as well as health standards before departure.

 

Useful links for keeping you updated with the news and changes of Covid-19

 

New Zealand Healthline for COVID-19: 0800 358 5453