The Nation awaits freedom to organise, attend large events

Emotions erupt as families and friends unite as the first quarantine-free flight lands in Auckland on February 28, 2022 (News Hub Pictures)

Venkat Raman
Auckland March 1, 2022

While international travellers and New Zealanders are pleased that the MIQ and self-isolation regimes have ended, event organisers hope that restrictions on the number of people at indoor gatherings will be removed to allow a larger assembly of people.

The current Red Settings under the Traffic Lights System of the Covid-19 Protection Network allow only 100 persons (including the organising and catering teams) at indoor conferences and other programmes, which make it impossible to conduct major events such as those organised by Indian Newslink.  We have been constrained to postpone our Business Awards and Festivals of South India for the past two years but hope to organise them this year.

Details of these events can be seen in our in-house advertisements in this issue.

Doors open to the world

The government’s decision to remove self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers to New Zealand will also enable Kiwis to come to this country from the rest of the world sooner, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has said.

It is understood that the decision follows the advice given by Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and the Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group.

“The Cabinet has agreed to lift all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand from 11:59 pm on Wednesday 2 March 2022. That means all Kiwis coming home and tourists entering the country will be able to step off the plane and immediately connect with family and friends and enjoy all New Zealand has to offer,” Mr Hipkins said.

However, all arriving passengers must return a negative, pre-departure test and undertake two Raid Antigen Tests on arrival and Day Five or Six. Managed isolation will remain for unvaccinated New Zealanders, refugees and some community cases as needed.

People with a positive result must report and isolate for the same period as a community case.

Rapid Antigen Tests

“Returnees are also asked to follow up their positive Rapid Antigen Test with a PCR test so that we can run whole genome sequencing and determine the variant. This will ensure that we can still keep tabs on any emerging variants and isolate cases as needed. Caution has served us well during the past two years and as we continue to move through the Omicron outbreak and peak, we will continue to remove restrictions when advised it is safe to do so – as we always said we would,” Mr Hipkins said.

Get booster, please

He appealed to about one million New Zealanders due for the booster to get it sooner.

“If you are unvaccinated, you are much more likely to end up in hospital with Covid-19 than if you are vaccinated and boosted,” he said.

Professor Sir David Skegg, who chaired the Advisory Group acknowledged that without self-isolation there will be more travellers, leading to a rise in community cases but these numbers will remain a very small proportion of overall cases for the foreseeable future.

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