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NZ govt helping families reunite: Officials - Welington News

Welington, June 12 (IANS) The New Zealand government is taking steps to help families separated due to the COVID-19 pandemic reunite safely and support economic recovery without increasing the risk of virus spread, officials said on Friday.

by IANS | Updated Jun 12, 2020 09:06 AM

NZ govt helping families reunite: Officials - Welington News
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"Our border restrictions help us protect New Zealanders from COVID-19 so we are carefully taking steps that keep us safe while ensuring families can reunite and we support economic recovery," Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said in a statement on Friday.

"We are removing the requirement for partners and dependents of New Zealand citizens and residents who have a relationship-based visa or are ordinarily resident in New Zealand to travel together to be granted an entry exception.

"This will be a great relief for families separated by the border closure," Lees-Galloway said.

Everyone entering New Zealand will still need to do 14 days of managed isolation so the government is working within the current capacity of 3,200 for the quarantine facilities run by the Ministry of Health, Xinhua news agency reported.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said as part of the government's new long-term border management, Immigration NZ is strengthening its processes and criteria for employers who need workers for significant economic activities, to stop key projects being delayed or avoid negative impacts on the wider economy.

"We expect demand to increase as the economy starts up again. We need to balance demand for specialist and critical workers while supporting a rapidly changing labour market," Twyford said.

Lees-Galloway said the government will continue to review the way it manages the border as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19.

"We are exploring how we can create an isolation system that could support further opening of New Zealand's borders, for example for current holders of temporary work visas and international students, while continuing to effectively manage health risks from overseas arrivals," he said.

On June 9, New Zealand was declared coronavirus free.

It has lifted almost all of its coronavirus restrictions after reporting no active cases in the country.

New Zealand recorded 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths since the virus arrived in late February, but has been widely praised for its handling of the crisis.

--IANS

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