Kiwis stranded in Australia face a long wait to return home after being barred from applying for spots in the country’s quarantine system.
About 1250 hotel quarantine rooms were up for release under New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) program on Thursday.
Under the current program, New Zealand citizens wishing to return home can retrieve an online voucher confirming their place in the MIQ system, where they then will spend 10 days in managed isolation.
But New Zealanders stuck in Australia were barred from applying for the latest round of flights hours – due to leave in March and April – before the bookings opened on Thursday.
A statement on MIQ’s website on Wednesday night read: “Due to the delay to the opening of the self-isolation pathway from Australia, airlines do not currently have any red flights scheduled from Australia for March or April.
“For this reason, those travelling from Australia will not be able to participate in tomorrow’s room release.
“MIQ is working with airlines in relation to schedules and future releases. There are further rooms available for March and April that will be released in future lobbies.”
Thursday’s release was delayed back in December last year as the country reassessed the threat of the Omicron variant.
Australian-based New Zealanders would have been able to travel over quarantine-free from January 16.
But quarantine-free travel from Australia has been suspended as states and territories grapple with a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“The date on which eligible travellers will be able to arrive in New Zealand and self-isolate, instead of going into an MIQ facility, has been pushed out until the end of February 2022,” a statement on the MIQ website now reads.
Travel had been allowed between the neighbouring countries last year under a travel bubble arrangement, but this was halted due to Australia’s escalating Covid situation in mid-2021.